With a sliver of silvery moon in the evening sky, we welcome our newest granddaughter to our family, bestowing on her a Jewish name that recalls those who came before her and blesses her with the legacy of their wisdom and good deeds ever after. A precious gift, in a gossamer summery dress and tiny glittery ballet flats, she looks out at us with wide-eyed innocence, cooing along with the cantor, charming the rabbi and all those who gathered there to honor her. She squirms in her mother’s arms as we recite the shehecheyanu thanking G-d for bringing us to this day and cuddles with her dad as she receives the priestly blessing asking for His favor.
It is an auspicious event, made even more so by its timing. The eve of her B’rit Bat is Rosh Chodesh Elul, the Sabbath before the beginning of the Hebrew month that precedes the high holidays. It’s a time, the sages tell us, when God’s presence is near, particularly as we begin the traditional period of reflection readying for the Days of Awe. And that presence is palpable.
Two days later, on the first of Elul, as the moon that night will gradually grow to a slender crescent, that spirit is as keenly felt. Our family is together again on a glorious Sunday afternoon to celebrate the marriage of one of our daughters. It is yet another joyous occasion, and cause for reflection, as we delight this time in the happiness of a couple enveloped in the warm embrace of their loving families. Four generations come together, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, cousins and nieces and nephews, and sundry little ones around the table.
It is yet another reminder of our enduring ties to those who have come before us and those who come after, of life’s endless circling and its everlasting prospect for gladness and joy. I listen as our children, by birth and by marriage, and their children, toast the newlyweds, with gracious humor and genuine affection, retelling the story of the couple’s courtship, then gently teasing their dad and me and our family, as they welcome the newest member into our midst. And I glance at my husband, tears in my eyes, marveling at our offspring, at all we’ve been given, at all we’ve been privileged to receive.
There are days that lift us up, days that remind us of the quintessential goodness of life, of its inordinate blessings, of those things that are important and those that are not. And there are days, if we are so very lucky, that evoke, especially at this time of the year, an overwhelming gratitude that cannot be captured in pictures or words, that exists beyond time and space, between heaven and earth, in evanescent moments.
Moments such as these.
And my heart is filled to overflowing.