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BlogElul Day 7: Be

This post is part of the #blogelul project started by the inimitable Ima On (and off) the Bima. I am using it as my motivation to rejuvenate this site and get myself back into the swing of things.


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While my knowledge of Hebrew is extremely sparse, what I understand is that it does not contain a verb “to be” – at least in the way English and other languages understand it. And even other languages don’t understand “to be” the way English does. In French you can’t say “I am cold” or “I am 46 years old”. You say “I have cold” or “I have 46 years” instead. To say “I am cold” would imply that you are cold personified. Which may be true if you are a superhero, but otherwise it just makes you sound weird.

And I find that interesting because I think it’s correct and that English got it wrong. I don’t think we can actually BE.

I think you can DO something. You can HAVE something. You can BELIEVE something.

But BE-ing – who you ARE or WERE or WILL BE – is only a reflective state. Meaning you can only know your state of being by looking back on how you behaved.

With that insight – that lashon kodesh (holy speech, a euphemism for Hebrew) doesn’t allow for the fiction of a current state of being – I have new insight into the upcoming Days of Awe.

I cannot (linguistically) stand before God and say “This is who I am. I hope you find me worthy.” It’s impossible to say because it’s impossible to do.

Rather, I have to be honest with myself and say “These are the things I’ve done. I am proud of these. I regret those. All together the paint a picture of who I was in the past year. Using that as a guide, I change this, augment that, and envision a path to the person I want to become .”

I hope God thinks that person – the one I want to BE – is one worth investing another year in.

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