The Light Within

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.


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This past winter, I paid a visit to my elderly aunt -– my late father’s younger sister –- with whom I am very close. I have learned some of my greatest life lessons from her. Shirley lives in a stately home on a tree-lined street in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the phone never stops ringing. She is a mother of four, grandmother of sixteen, great-grandmother of forty-five and counting. Recently widowed, she had just put her home on the market when, during a visit to a daughter in Chicago, a pipe burst, flooding several floors full of antiques and artwork. A significant part of that elegant home had been —turned, in her words, into “a barn.” So she had just begun the process, arduous for anyone much less an octogenarian, of filing insurance claims and rebuilding her home.

“Come in, darling!” She swept me into what had once been her living room. “It’s a mess, isn’t it? But look how lucky we were. None of Uncle Moe’s books were damaged.”

I looked at her. Lucky? This wouldn’t have been my definition of lucky.

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