Elul, or: August

A haibun

The Hebrew calendar is lunar, rather than solar like the Gregorian calendar, which is used throughout most of the world. However, unlike the lunar Muslim calendar, the Hebrew calendar includes leap years, making Jewish holidays seasonal. Passover, for example, is always in the Spring; Chanukah is always in the Winter. The exact dates of our holidays vary from year to year on the Gregorian calendar, but they are always celebrated at the same time of year.

Ten years ago, my wife and I got married on August 30, which corresponded to the first of the Hebrew month of Elul. Some years, our Hebrew anniversary is in September, but this year it falls on the evening of August 8th (as lunar days begin at sunset). One could say that we have two wedding anniversaries.

The Hebrew word Elul is traditionally understood as an acronym for the phrase ‘Ani l’dodi v’dodi li’ (אני לדודי ודודי לי) – ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.’ Usually, this phrase is considered to be a reference to the loving relationship between God and the Jewish people, which is especially relevant during Elul, coming, as it does, just before the Jewish High Holy Days when, according to tradition, we stand before God in judgment. However, this phrase is also quite popular in a romantic context, and it graced the cover of of our beautiful wedding invitations…

Jerusalem heat
drops in the summer evenings ~
in time for sushi

d’Verse

For this ‘Haibun Monday’ at d’Verse, we were prompted to write about whatever inspires us about this month — the namesake of Augustus, the solemn memorials to inhumanity and survival, madcap vacationing in sultry weather, or traditional Autumn — write a haibun alluding to August.

55 thoughts on “Elul, or: August”

  1. Funny you should bring all this up, David. אני ל’דודי ו’דודי לי is on our Ketubah, as well as another quote from שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים, but in Russian: ‘Положи меня как печать на сердце твое.’ The Ketubah itself was done by a Russian artist, a friend, who did know Hebrew, but copied the text faithfully from a standard Ketubah (the Rabbi was terribly impressed). Odessa Opera House is incorporated into the design, as well as musical instruments, books and scrolls.
    As to the two anniversaries, we always celebrate two of everything – why not, if you get an extra chance to celebrate? So I have just celebrated my second birthday (I just turned 18 once again!), and we have made it a sushi-making day, with my sons and all grandkids around the table. I couldn’t have wished for a better celebration!
    Love,
    D

  2. Its lovely to read about other traditions – I am constantly being educated. Happy Anniversary ❤ (In the UK a gift of tin marks ten years of marriage – maybe elsewhere too, I don’t know).

    1. 💜 Marion 💜

      I’m familiar with that list of materials… but I don’t know of an equivalent in the Jewish tradition. (it would be very convenient to have that)

      Yours,
      David

  3. Love the Haiku!! And the detail about the Hebrew calendar was very interesting. Living in China, I was exposed to their lunar calendar but I never came to truly understand it. In ages past, seasons must’ve been way more important than a time or a date. And, as a southern hemisphere dweller, I notice how much we are dictated to by dates that have nothing to do with the pagan festival at hand – Christmas in summer, Easter in autumn – it’s all topsy turvy. The older I get the more this inconsistency bothers me. Perhaps I am just old and cranky.

      1. I was only in China for a year… teaching English at a small University is southern central China. I learned to speak enough to get about and, when I got back, I studied the language for a year or two. But nothing beats studying the language in situ. Mandarin is a beautiful language. I don’t doubt most religions have incorporated aspects of paganism. It was the life then – the harvest, the seasons… life was dependent on these great cycles. What could be more important to people than the earth and weather that kept them sustained… or not. Religion had its own purpose but I can imagine it would have been hard to eradicate that central focus.

  4. I much prefer the romantic interpretation of that phrase. If the Jews are God’s beloved, he’s got a funny way of showing it. And I also like the way you turn the mood to just a little self-derision with that final line of the haiku. Subtle and funny.

    1. P.S. I agree with you vis-à-vis the phrase, Jane… but I always feel compelled to provide the traditional context before sharing my own take – my preferences and perspectives don’t exist in a bubble, particularly when it comes to religion and politics.

      1. Of course, and it’s always interesting. I don’t actually believe that Lugh existed and that he protected the harvest, but I do like to put ‘Christian’ traditions into context—they just pinched existing beliefs and slapped a sticker ‘Christian’ on them.

      1. I am working on a project about the prophet Elijah, and this post just have me such a deep layer for a character within one of the stories. – the hand of providence my friend. 😊So happy to follow your blog. It’s just stirs my creativity

          1. Your welcome mate. I am not Hebrew. But grew up a sabbath keeping protestant. And certain things add authenticity to my biblical studies… Your post today being one of them

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