Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Jewish Holidays Aren’t Always Restful

For traditionally observant Jews, we’ve just finished a marathon month of holidays. No fewer than 7 days (all during the work week, I might add) were set aside for various religious activities, festivals, and the like.

My work colleagues were understanding and supportive, but I sensed a slight misconception stemming from the word “holiday.”

While I’ve never attended Christmas or Easter services, my sense is that those days are somewhat different that Jewish holidays, hence the misconception.

We spend an average of 3-4 hours in synagogue on each of the holidays (in some cases, more). The services are followed by meals which are usually elaborate and lavish and can take anywhere from 1-4 hours.  Now, this sounds great, but having hosted them (and the NFO having prepared them), I can tell you…it’s a LOT of work.

But, as they say, “wait, there’s more.”

You have to remember that while all of these holidays are occurring, you are operating under the traditional prohibition of using electricity, operating motor vehicles, or phones, etc.

So, while you don’t sit in the dark, you can’t exactly load up your dishwasher and push “start.”

Yes, there are ways around this, but even that is an effort to figure out an appropriate loophole that enables something that is forbidden.

Some might say “well, what’s the point,” and I can see where the cynic or skeptic might offer that opinion, but the mental challenge is half the fun.

But, let’s set that aside for a moment, shall we?

Essentially,  you’ve got 24-48 hour periods where you can’t use your phone, email, TV. You can’t drive anywhere, so you are limited by walking distance. If you have visitors staying with you, they are homebound (in your house) if it’s raining, for example, and “sleeping in” is done, but the idea is you should be in synagogue.

The point I am trying to make here, I suppose is that the holiday is really a lot of work and effort.

In some cases you end it feeling refreshed and relaxed, but in other cases, you end it as tired (if not more) than when you begin.

Then, of course, you log-on to your email after having been away for 2 whole days and find 267 messages waiting for you.

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