Traditionally, during month of Elul, we say Psalm 27–lots of rabbis and other clever Jews have insights as to what it teaches us as we head into the High Holidays. Suffering from mommy-brain is a new part of my fabulous identity as an emah (mother), and I can’t help but think of the psalm in terms of my son. His name, Kaveh (קוה) comes from this particular psalm and in biblical Hebrew, it is the command form of the word hope.
Every morning, Kaveh wakes up, showers us with kisses and hugs, and babbles excitedly about things like breakfast and the people he’s going to see that day. Even if he had a tantrum before bed, or a bad dream during the night. He faces every day as if he was obligated to believe that it was going to be the best day ever.
When my chubby, beautiful toddler is sitting in his stroller and we pass the park, he repeats “Park! Park! Park!” over and over again until it’s no longer in sight. Until it’s truly, truly gone he maintains that it is a very real possibility that he’ll soon be giggling on his way down the slide, even if we’ve already told him that we’re going to the grocery store and there’s no time for the park. He never folds, because he believes that everything is possible.
And when he thinks that I’m being unreasonable, he tries to reason with me by screeching my name. Because he believes that he can convince me, that I can change.
When the jerk kid with the jerk mother at the park just “aren’t able” to share their precious soccer ball, Kaveh just sort of stares at them with his big hazel eyes. Because he knows that even though Emah is giving them dirty looks, you can usually inspire people to do the right thing fairly easily.
In a time of good-as-doomed peace negotiations and deflated spirits here in Israel, heartbreaking tragedies on every continent, friends struggling to pay their bills, and so on–my son’s name and the ways in which he lives and breathes the name itself are my guidance, trite as it may sound to some.
I have lofty expectations for myself in the long term about how to approach this special time of reflection and whatnot before the high holidays. But for now, Elul to me is my son: the tomato sauce in his hair, and his infinite hope.