This year, I’ve been obsessing about Psalm 27, the one that starts out “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” which traditional Jews recite every morning of the month of Elul. No coincidence that it’s been popping up a lot — check out this great spoken-word version of the psalm from Danny Raphael, and read Mary J. Blige’s piece on spiritual light for Jewels of Elul.
Today’s Jewel of Elul is about light, too. It’s a much different take on the topic — as you’ll see.
There is a great Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days in the month of Elul to study and prepare for the coming high holy days. The time is supposed to challenge us to use each day as an opportunity for growth and discovery. Each day, Jewels of Elul brings you a different thought.
It was dawn. My mother and I watched silently as the sun rose on a new day, the seventh day of my brother’s shiva. My brother, Nadav Elad, had been an IDF soldier in one of the elite units of the paratroopers.
We should have hated the sun, lighting up a world that seemed so broken to us now. Yet my mother gently laid her eyes on the view unfolding through the light, and with deep gratitude gave thanks for its existence. Light, she said, had witnessed Nadav’s presence in this world, as we have. And so now we are partners, holding his memory together and testifying that he had lived under the sun.
Pronounced: eh-LULE, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month usually coinciding with August-September.