welcome to אלול
As we begin Elul, the month before Rosh haShannah, preparations for the new year start.
The Hebrew word אלול is considered an acronym for the phrase from the Song of Songs: 6:3a…
אני לדודי ודודי לי = I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
The phrase is meant to suggest a loving relationship between the Creator and the Jewish people, or at this time of year a much more personal relationship between God and each individual who is ready to re-evaluate hirs actions as the world begins to constrict (at least in the northern hemisphere). [“hirs” is my own contraction or combination of “his” and “hers”]
preparing to turn
Making the changes necessary to put our lives back on course is not an easy task. To borrow a metaphor from the automobile industry (after all, we are autonomously mobile), it is hard to stop on a dime and turn. We need to get into the appropriate lane as we approach the intersection and alert others that we’re making the turn.
I have produced a good deal of material to help us work through these tasks. They are in the “archives” of the Web 1.0 version of davka.org. I’ll be bringing them forward, as well as presenting some new material, a bit at a time.
But, as we prepare, a little levity:
…so, get ready.
for our own transgressions
On August 13, I wrote about the multiple transgressions of others. The time has come to focus on our own transgressions.
…from the archives (with minor updating)
for the sins of… tashlich תשליך toss
[The word “sin” is not a good translation of the Hebrew word חטא chet. Better is a phrase: “miss the mark” as in when you take aim at a target with a bow and arrow, but miss. You have not done something, that transforms your essence, for which you need forgiveness. No, you collect the arrows that did not hit the target, gather them up in your quiver and take better aim the next time.]
The origin of the custom of tossing bread crumbs to symbolize the errors in our behavior is shrouded in mystery. The custom of tossing something comes from the Prophet Micha.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
ישוב ירחמנו יכבש עונתינו ותשליך במצלות ים כל–חטאותם
The origin may be shrouded in mystery, but, naturalist that I am… I think it comes from a few rather prosaic aspects of our lives.
- You’ll notice that even after you shower and wash yourself thoroughly you still have lint in your pupik.
- Even after you send your slacks to the cleaner, when you look in the pockets and turn them inside out, you’ll still find lint.
- Before the days of dry cleaners and “lunch boxes”, workers would take their lunches (often a chunk of bread) to work wrapped (if they were wealthy enough to have it) in paper. Crumbs would collect in their pockets. A thorough method of cleaning would be to turn those pockets inside out… and crumbs would fall out.
And so, when we are ready to thoroughly clean our lives of all the crumbs that have accumulated over the year… we turn our pockets inside out. Lo and behold, they are filled with bread crumbs!
B’Shem Omro… The list of breads for tashlich was originally posted to Ravnet (the online discussion group of the Conservative rabbis) and is the brainchild of Rabbi Richard Israel. A page on the Web (maintained by Daniel Bricklin) has an explanation of R. Israel’s original thoughts on the matter. Rabbi Israel died in 2000. You can read tributes to his memory. Rabbi Israel’s idea has entered the folk literature of our people. On R. Israel’s page there are 56 varieties of Tashlich. Since then, I’ve collected all that I received over the intervening years and “alphabetized” them (by form of “bread”), amounting to a total of 96. (If you know of more please send them to me for inclusion here, or add them to the comments section.) Rabbi Israel’s original 56 are in bold.
If I learn that an item was created by someone in particular, I’ll add that source in [square brackets].
For trying to improve everyone within sight — Angel Food Cake
For the sins of the righteous — Angel Food Cake
For sins of laziness — Any Very Long Loaf
For being holier than thou — Bagels
For having a hole where your heart should be — Bagels
For cheating — Baked Goods with Nutrasweet and Olestra
For recurring slip ups — Banana Bread
For political skullduggery — Bismarcks
For tastelessness — Bisquick
For sins of bigotry — Black and white
For sins of sycophancy — Brownies
For committing auto theft — Caraway
For the sin of carrying something too far — Caraway rolls
For unfairly upbraiding another — Challah
For indecent photography — Cheese Cake
For dependence on stimulants — Coffee cake [Ed Scheinerman]
For telling bad jokes — Corn Bread
For racism — Crackers
For acting like a mad person — Crackers
For bad temper — Crusty bread
For the sin of romantic misjudgment — Date-nut bread
For selling your soul — Devils Food Cake
For usury — Dough
For trashing the environment — Dumplings
For being money hungry — Enriched Bread or Raw Dough
For davvening off tune — Flat Bread
For gambling — Fortune Cookies
For exotic sins — French or Italian bread
For sins of chutzpah — Fresh Bread
For telling small lies — Fudge
For being snappish — Ginger Bread
For abrasiveness — Grits
For risking one’s life unnecessarily — Hero Bread
For being up-tight and irritable — High Fiber or Bran Muffins
For the sin of turning away strangers — host(less) cupcakes
For promiscuity — Hot Buns
For the sin of anger — Hot Cross Buns
For excessive sharpness — Hot Pepper Bread
For the sin of being a menace — Hun-ny Cake
For hardening our hearts — Jelly doughnuts
For war-mongering — Kaiser Rolls
For insensitivity to poverty — Let them throw cake [Ed Scheinerman]
For the sin of fomenting chaos — Mandelbrot [Ed Scheinerman]
For indecision — Marble Loaf
For sins committed in haste — Matzah
For timidity — Milk Toast
For complex sins — Multi-grain
For high-handedness — Napoleons
For silliness — Nut bread
For being hyper-critical — Pan Cakes
For annoying others — Pesto Bread
For the sin of rabbis who philosophize excessively — philo dough [Ed Scheinerman]
For the sin of cruelty to animals — Pita (PETA) bread [Ed Scheinerman]
For dropping in without calling beforehand — Popovers
For substance abuse/heavy drugs — Poppy Seed Cake
For wearing immodest blouses — Pop Tarts [Eric Rubenstein]
For gluttony — Pound Cake
For truly warped sins — Pretzels
For twisted sins — Pretzels
For sins of pride — Puff Pastry
For particularly dark sins — Pumpernickel
For impetuosity — Quick Bread
For rearing children incompetently — Raisin Bread
For the sin of raisin’ hell — Raisin bread
For the sin of misplaced levity — Reduced calorie bread
For tasteless sins — Rice Cakes
For fraudulent behavior — Rice cakes
For sophisticated racism — Ritz Crackers
For acting up — Rolls [Ed Scheinerman]
For flaunting wealth in the form of fancy cars — Rolls
For speed limit violations — Russian bread
For excessive use of irony — Rye Bread
For adding to injuries — Salt Rising Bread
For sins committed in less than eighteen minutes — Shmurah Matzah
For not giving full value — Shortbread
For rabbis whose sermons are too long — Shortn’n bread
For the sin of sinning — ‘Sin’ammon bread
For cutting remarks — Sliced bread
For being ill tempered — Sourdough
For being sulky — Sourdough
For larceny (especially of copyright material) — Stollen
For inhaling — Stoned Wheat
For substance abuse/marijuana — Stoned Wheat
For over-eating — Stuffing Bread or Bulkie Rolls
For wearing tasteless hats — Tam Tams
For immodest behavior — Tarts
For committing arson — Toast
For causing injury or damage to others — Tortes
For failing to do t’shuvah — Turnovers [Ed Scheinerman]
For snobbery — Upper Crusts
For sins of indecision — Waffles
For ordinary sins — White Bread
For lust in your heart — Wonder Bread
For provocative dressing — Wonton Wrappers
For jingoism — Yankee Doodles
For political chauvinism –Yankee Doodles
Previous update: September 13, 2006
Many of us blow shofar each day of Elul to “wake us up” to the tasks ahead. When we lived in Poway I would take a shofar out to the back porch and blow it. Its sound carried far through the valley. One year I noticed a similar sound coming from what must have been a neighbor about 100 yards away.
Even if the sound of the shofar is not available, its image is often used to “call our attention” to the task at hand. And so it has been used on lapel buttons during the movement to free Soviet Jewry.
|Date:||ca. late 1960s|
|Text||I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
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