Hello, and Chodesh Tov. Our tradition teaches that the Torah was given for the first time on Shavuot; that is, the sixth day of Sivan (this year, mid-May). But, descending the Mountain, Moses saw the sin of the Golden Calf. In his rage, he shattered the first tablets. The midrash places this event on the 17th of Tammuz (June 27). There followed 40 days of grief and lament – with the Children of Israel, camped at the foot of the mountain, desperate and uncertain what their future might hold outside the Divine relationship. On Rosh Chodesh Elul – which we observed this Sunday and Monday – a shofar rang out through the Israelite camp and Moses was invited back up the Mountain to receive a second set of tablets. He returned with these on the tenth of Tishrei – our Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, then, should be a day for sombre atonement; but also for joyous celebration. The Talmud (Taanit 26b) describes it as Yom Chatunato – God’s own wedding day. These forty days from Elul to Yom Kippur, then, are an eit ratzon – a time of forgiveness and kindness, and period when – whatsoever trauma has come before – we look as if towards a wedding party.
You will have plenty of chances to mark Elul with your Mosaic community. On Sunday 15 August, at 5:30pm on Zoom, Philip Silverton will be surveying important trends in modern Art and Design. On Tuesday 17th, at 2:30pm on Zoom, Rose Gartenberg will be telling the amazing story of her wartime years. And finally, looking further ahead, join a virtual teatime quiz on August 22nd. Details for all these events and more can be found on the Mosaic website.
Student Rabbi Anthony Lazarus Magrill