Friday, September 9, 2016

#BlogElul: Believe

If seeing is believing, today I saw two extremes of human behavior.

First, sitting in the café at Barnes and Noble, I saw – or rather I heard – a woman on the phone with a far-away child. Not only was the caller uber-pretentious – “Sweetie, remember when we were in Prague and we saw the furniture exhibit at the Museum of Decorative Arts...?” – but she was using anything but her “inside voice.” In fact, everyone in the cafe, as well as browsers in the bookstore beyond were disturbed by the volume of her saccharin pomposity. When chided by a fellow café patron who asked her politely to lower her voice, she said, without an iota of apology, “Oh I’m so sorry. I’m speaking with my three-year-old, so I have to talk loudly.”

From Barnes and Noble, I walked to the far east side for a shiva minyan at a house of mourning. As is often the case, the apartment overflowed with humanity, present to comfort the mourners, fellow congregants and longtime, active members of our synagogue. Just as it is traditional to recite Psalm 27 daily during Elul as a reminder that God is with us in good times and bad, so too do we, the mourners’ friends and community members, stand with them at this sad time in their lives, helping them come to terms with their loss. 

Indeed, if seeing is believing, in 5777 may we see (and perform) many more acts of genuine kindness, caring, and compassion than acts of uber pomposity.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.