“Hit the road, Jack ... ” This is the song we heard playing loud and live on a makeshift stage in the middle of a grassy knoll in the neighborhood park. We had come to the park in an attempt to get out of the house on this last day of Yom Tov, Simchat Torah, to walk a bit and breathe fresh air, for the children to enjoy some play time and for me to catch up on Psalms. We were completely unaware of the festivities we would encounter.

The loud music was not a deterrent for my children—they came to play, and a live stage off to the side was barely noticed. I thought to myself, We should probably go home. How could I make my kids turn right back around?The live music didn’t seem appropriate for this holiday, a sacred day similar to Shabbat on which we don’t play music. But how could I make my kids turn right back around?

So I sat there, Psalms in hand, while my children played happily. As time passed, it occurred to me how hard I was working to concentrate on the Psalms, yet how smoothly the words flowed off my lips. I felt like I had reached an intense level of concentration, despite—or because of—my environment. And that’s when it hit me: This is the life we live today! Doing holy work, surrounded by all kinds of loud distractions—sounds, sights and smells that can interfere with our spiritual tasks at hand. It’s not easy. It is rigorous and takes intense determination. And how much more difficult it is for our children, who are like seedlings in a garden, vulnerable to their environment! This holy work can be done, but sometimes not without drifting—“Hit the road, Jack.”

Another thought I had, this one perhaps more appropriate for this exact day, season and song at play, was this:

After Simchat Torah, it is a custom at the court of the rebbes of Chabad to declare: “V’Yaakov halach l’darko”—“And Jacob went on his way” (or the modern version that came over the loudspeaker, “Hit the road, Jack”). There are two beautiful meanings for this custom:

On a simple level, Jacob symbolizes the Jewish people. Thus, “Jacob went on his way” means that after the excitement of the holidays is over, the Jewish people return to their regular path, to their normal, everyday lives, albeit uplifted by the preceding holiday season.

A second explanation adds more depth: We do not need to leave the holiness behindafter the holidays are over, Jacob (the Jewish people) goes on “His way”—the way of G‑d—studying Torah and performing mitzvahs.

That song, sung over and over in the park, reminded me of these lessons.

Each one of us has the ability to follow “His way” in our day-to-day lives. We do not need to leave the holiness of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah behind; we take them with us just as our forefather “Jack” (and our foremothers, too) did, as we “hit the road”—the long journey of the year ahead.