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Holiday Over-Dosage

Holiday Over-Dosage

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My household cleaning service is getting frustrated. A festival. And then another one. And following it, a semi-festival (Chol Hamoed), where only some activities are off-limits. And then again two days off all forms of work. "Can't you guys schedule your festivals in a more organized fashion?"

It isn't much easier for us either. Cooking, grating, cleaning, baking, cleaning. Peeling, peeling, and more peeling. And did I mention cleaning? So much work just to jam-pack the stomach with cholent, fish, meat, kugel, ice cream, salads and spirits (we're only mentioning necessities, okay?). Every day. Two or three times a day. And then next week all over again...

Couldn't the Master Planner of these holidays space them out a bit more?My wallet and credit cards are also starting to kvetch under the strain. Loads of lamb shoulder steak, outfitting the entire family with matching outfits from head to toe, and front-wall seats in the synagogue get the bills skyrocketing in no time.

Couldn't the Master Planner of these holidays space them out a bit more, giving us a bit of time to breathe and recuperate before the next one? Looks like time management is not high on the list of priorities there.

And then there is the concern of overdosing. Wouldn't a monthly conveniently-sized spirituality dispenser with a small dosage to boost our spiritual circulatory system be just fine?

Here's the formal answer: The month of Tishrei is full of festivals, joy, and intensity; the following month, Cheshvan, does not even have one minor holiday. You need an extra super-duper dose of holiday spirituality to help get you through the dull, dry, festival-free month of Cheshvan.

Somehow, this answer doesn't satisfy me. That sounds like really poor planning. Cram up all the major festivals in the first month of the year and then follow it with a vacuum — a month devoid of any parties, new outfits and stomachaches. Feels like a spiritual roller-coaster ride. Couldn't the descent "back to earth" be gradual, avoiding unnecessary turbulence and a potential collision upon landing?

Clearly, this is part of a detailed, direct, and deliberate plan. Herein lies the paradox of life: The only way to survive and cope in the outback is by filling your suitcases to the brim prior to the journey. Yet, the only way to develop coping skills and experience true independent growth is by camping in a site devoid of any amenities, facilities and resources.

The packing and planning in Tishrei, the first month of the year, is crucial to the success of our journey later on. Tishrei can be seen as the "head" of the year (the Hebrew letters of the word Tishrei can also spell the word "reishit," beginning and head). The head contains the brain, mouth, nose, ears, eyes and face — intelligence, speech, smell, hearing and sight. All that crammed in one section of the body, the head? Couldn't these vital senses be spread out over the entire body? But that just wouldn't work. In order for the head to conduct all the affairs of the body it requires those vital tools to work with. Each of Tishrei's special days is another section of the "head" — a source of strength and inspiration for all the following days throughout the year.

Having a festival in Cheshvan would be akin to hitting concrete pavement while hiking...Yet, the actual journey is done with the legs, or more correctly the heels (the least sensitive limb of the body), which takes its cue from the head. And it's only the heels that actually "goes places." Cheshvan is traveling time.

To get the maximum experience out of our trip we need to stock up very well before we go, with food for the journey and some basic appliances — i.e. acceptance of G‑d's Sovereignty and awe of Heaven (Rosh Hashanah), teshuvah (Yom Kippur), joy and festivity (Sukkot), and dedication to Torah (Simchat Torah).

But, then it's time for "real life" in the jungle. Having a festival in Cheshvan would be akin to hitting concrete pavement while hiking in the countryside. It ruins the experience. This is the time to put to use all our coping and camping skills.

So let's stuff those overweight suitcases, eat to our full and write out fat checks — loaded with sanctity, joy, commitment, resolutions and aspirations.

But, remember: at the end of the month the bills need to be paid. Come Cheshvan, make sure those checks don't bounce.

Rabbi Yossi Braun lectures on Talmud, Jewish law and Chassidism in Sydney, Australia.
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Doreen September 10, 2015

God alone change times and seasons,, I fully agree with holy day.. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 18, 2012

respite from HOLIDAZE We have our planned holidays, and everything in life exists and is heightened by contrast. Colors change when placed next to each other, and life has this quality sometimes of off and on. We need both. There is another aspect to this, and that is, the knowledge that we can be celebrating each other, and this beautiful world every single day, and do not really need the holidays to carry us through. Isn't there a notion that when the Messiah comes every day will be, Shabbat? Every day is a gift, filled with Presence and Presents.

When you see this, it rather changes the nature of HOLIDAZE, and sends us reeling every day. Reply

rivka sydney October 5, 2010

great read...very true!!
thank you :) Reply

Anonymous Albuquerque, NM October 3, 2010

another aspect of Tishrei it also strikes me as an 'at home' farmer that we are preparing not only for this years harvest which will happen in this next month and the month following but preparing the soil for the entire year... so perhaps that can be tied in spiritually as well, the harvest and then the fertilizer and much needed rain for the seasons to come to insure a good harvest for the next Tishrei and following two months... after all G-d knows the land that "He" created and what is best... the land will yield alot in the high desert where I live in the next two months and then will need to 'sleep' and be feritized and maintained until the next planting season... so... we get charged up so to speak to do the harvesting and then preparation of the land ... harvesting from last year, celebrating and then preparing for the next year during the 'quieter" months... same thing for our spirituality? We just live in a society that has been "alienated" from the land ... but it makes sense to me... Reply

raziela October 3, 2010

i am going to write an article about this I am on a mission to wake people up. G-d did not make a mistake, but we are messing up. We have lost the focus. Spirituality can be taught.

Sorry lack of sleep makes me blunt. Reply

Sarah Z Israel October 28, 2008

awesome!!! Awesome article - love your analogy... good - good stuff. Thank you! Reply

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