The elevator reached the fourth floor. The doors slid open, but I was tempted to hit “lobby” and push this off for a week. I was returning home from vacation.
It’s a good thing suitcases have wheels, because the one right behind me leaned against me and prodded me out the door. I stepped out quickly onto the black and white tiles of my hallway, and looked for a light-switch to brighten it up. Oh. The light was on; I guess fluorescent watts just don’t compete with the sun’s. I glanced out the window at the street down below, and imagined that the graffiti inscription on the corner grocery read, “Welcome back from vacation.”
I felt the walls caving in on meBracing myself to enter my urban dwelling, I turned the key in the lock. I slowly pushed the carriage into my living room, followed by my husband and a month’s load of stuff. There was barely any floor to be seen, and I knew that even when I unpacked the suitcases, my son would be able to run about six feet and then have to turn back the other direction. How different this was from vacation.
It wasn’t that I wanted to radiate negative energy; I simply felt claustrophobic, and couldn’t help noticing the dust balls dancing in all the corners. I knew that the closest I could get to seeing a clear blue sky with a serene landscape would be if I purchased wallpaper. I felt the walls caving in on me, leaving only a narrow tunnel for me to crawl through, face down.
That’s when I noticed it. A kind mailman had slipped a big envelope under my door, saving me the usual trip to the post office for larger-sized packages. A bright red sticker read, “Do not bend, portraits inside.” G‑d bless Sears! I tore open the perforated line, and the pictures landed gracefully on my glass table. Within 30 seconds I had them laying side by side, a collage of memories from my recent vacation.
With crisp white pants and sky-blue argyle shirts, my kids blended right into the scenery. The essence of vacation had been captured in an 8×10, two 5×7s, and a sheet of wallets. I played with the different sizes and poses, rearranging them on a bare wall in the kids’ bedroom, and designed their frames in my mind. When the prints were at the right angle and the symmetry was just so, I actually managed a smile. It was good to be home, in my comfort zone, with real wooden cribs instead of playpens for the little ones. Home was where I spent the majority of my life, for both function and purpose. And soon to be hanging on my wall, in my own home, I had a glimpse of vacation as well. Enough to uplift me at a glance.
The $5.99 for overnight shipping was worth it.
We all have another dimension to us. There’s that spiritual part within us that has genuine thoughts and emotions. It is called the G‑dly soul.
We all have another dimension to usThis soul is granted a vacation once a year, during the first month of the year, Tishrei. The landscape is filled with high holidays and an assortment of mitzvot, a veritable feast for the soul. The soul feels the connection to our Creator without a smokescreen interfering. Its essence is revealed.
In contrast to such a luminous month, Tishrei is followed by the month of Cheshvan, a month where the soul feels like it is permanently seeing behind darkened sunglasses. How should the soul cope with the grind of daily life, without the spiritual heights and inspiration of the holiday season?
A small town in Russia had the answer. At the closing of the final holiday of the month, Simchat Torah, the rebbes in the city of Lubavitch would proclaim, “VeYaakov halach ledarko,” “And Jacob went on his way.”
Jacob’s journey was symbolic of every Jew’s return to “normal life.” The name Yaakov (Jacob) has roots in the word eikev, or “heel.” The heel connotes lifelessness, serving as a fitting metaphor for the routine and the regular.
How should one go about the transition from holiday to workday? “In His way,” in G‑d’s way. The eleven remaining months of the year are the majority of one’s life, and they are meant to be utilized for both function and purpose. G‑d’s intention is that we infuse the delight of “vacation” into our everyday activities, bringing meaning and holiness to every aspect of our lives.
Our source of inspiration? The mental picture formed throughout the holiday, which serves to uplift us at a glance. Much like a camel, who can drink 30 gallons of water and then store it as fat for a long trek ahead, with a little bit from his reservoir being enough to sustain him.
It’s good to be home, being able to access spiritual heights using physical means. Let’s make the coming months worth it.