Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Elul in Yinglish

For a week or so I've been intending to post something about the Jewish month of Elul - which started last week. Everybody knows about the High Holidays and that they're approaching, but actually, the preparations begin a month before, from the begining of Elul. One of the things that happens is that at the end of each weekday morning service one of the congregants blows one three-section blast on the shofar, to waken us to the seriousness of the approaching events. (Sephardi congregations, btw, have a heavier load already, and this is the source of some reasonably good jokes about how they aren't serious at Pessach and have to pay for it now, unlike us Ashkenazis).

So I went googling to find some good item about Elul and shofars and so on. Didn't really find what I was looking for, but I did find this, on the weeklyshtikle. The money quote, as Andrew Sullivan would call it, is this:
This week, we began blowing the shofar following davening as part of our yearly Elul ritual in preparation for Rosh HaShanah, only a month away. These shofar blasts are generally regarded as a wakeup call. Perhaps we can also view these shofar blasts as a call to arms - a reminder to begin to wage war against our yeitzer hara as we turn our focus towards teshuvah in preparation for the Yom HaDin.
He's right of course, is Eliezer Bulka... but how is a person to know? You'd have to be a Yinglish speaker to figure out what he's talking about. Meaning, that you think in (more or less) English syntax, and also you know the type of Hebrew that orthodox Jews prefer, or good old Yiddish. The interesting thing is that he is totally unabashed at writing his blog in this language, because obviously his entire social world understands it. Obviously. They may well not be proficient in Yiddish anymore, and their Hebrew might not be adaquate to use to run a business, and they probably don't even think about how what they're doing is NOT talking English.

Thus is a new language born.

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