Shabbat Greetings from Stuart Skolnick – August 2, 2013

Stuart SkolnickThe countdown has begun. We knew that as we came to the end of  Tisha B’Av in mid-July. As of today we are less than five weeks away from the start of Rosh Hashnah. And I’m not even counting Selichot which will occur this year at the end of August. That thought is just too scary…

Leaving aside the earliest occurrence of Rosh Hashanah for the next 200 years or so our calendar and cycle of readings is a miraculous thing. For three weeks before the observance of Tisha B’Av we listen to the words of Jeremiah rebuking us for our behavior. In a master stroke of psychology our ancestors realized that it was easy to say something critical but harder to soften that blow with kind words. The harsh comment stays with us longer so while there are only 3 weeks of rebuke it takes seven weeks to feel consolation. We are already into that cycle and hearing these haftarot recited each summer reminds us that we are counting the swift passing of weeks toward the High Holydays. We also remember the words found in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers, to watch our words and our speech. Especially in this era of instant communication we need to be mindful not only of what we say but of how we say it. That seems to be a thought to keep in mind as we look to the start of Elul and the time of year when we examine ourselves and our behavior. May we find peace and comfort in Shabbat and the strength to start our chesbon ha-nefesh.

Shabbat Shalom!

Author: Melissa