On Tuesday morning, vandals defaced the Monastery of the Silent Monks at Latrun with anti-Christian graffiti. They also attempted, unsuccessfully, to burn the door. Rabbi Mauricio Balter of the Masorti (Conservative) Kehillat Eshel Avraham in Beersheva and president of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, was part of a Masorti delegation that visited the monks at Latrun in the aftermath of the incident. A translation of his remarks is reproduced below. (Translation by Arie Hasit, spiritual advisor to Masorti’s NOAM youth movement.)
This is Elul, the month before Rosh HaShanah, when we focus on developing new habits, new ways of doing things, so that we can start our year off right. Parshat Ki Tavo has a number of elements that can assist in this endeavor.
Jerusalem police arrested and detained four women for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall.
The women, members of Women of the Wall, were arrested Sunday during morning prayers, which included special prayers for the new Hebrew month of Elul.
Women of the Wall holds a special prayer service at the Western Wall each month for Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of new month. The group has met once a month at the back of the women's section at the Western Wall for the last 20 years.
At this time of year, I am often greeted by friends and congregants with some version of “this is your busy season, isn’t it?” Accountants like to say that this is “The rabbi’s April.” The teller at my bank this morning, an Indian woman, said benignly, “you have some holidays coming up, don’t you?’
With the shofar already blowing every morning, with the Days of Awe just days away, with the headlines more ominous than not, it is only natural for us to be feeling vulnerable, as individuals and as a community. Indeed, a major theme of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, let alone the slichot at Elul’s end, is nothing if not our vulnerability.
In the jargon of mental health professionals, when you say that someone’s “affect is labile,” it means that he/she tends to flip back and forth between different moods. It’s another way of saying that a person is behaving unpredictably, alternating between happy and sad, hope and despair, in ways that are hard to predict and liable to change at any moment.