Last year was the first year I truly felt it. The burn out, the exhaustion, the eager anticipation of the wrap up of festivities and eventual quietness that is left behind. I know most Jews (or at least most Jews I know thing of the high holidays as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but Rosh Hashanah is really just a kick off for what is over three weeks of celebrating one holiday or another, ending on Simchat Torah. From the apples and honey, to the dance around the unraveled Torah, for families who celebrate it all, it’s a whirlwind.
This year, it was even more evident. Each holiday presents it’s own opportunities for mitzvahs, some more fun to perform than others, with plenty of opportunities to be a host and a guest. If you are lucky, you have people over or visit homes to share each occasion. When we finally took down our Sukkah decorations this year, it left an obvious void. It left our pergola looking sad and lonesome and our hearts a little bit empty too.
We were able to perform the mitzvah of having guests at our home (Ushpizin) so much this year, that taking down all of the decoration we put up to host those guests, made it feel as though it never happened. I guess that’s the blessing of mitzvah, how it fills your heart, even if you don’t expect it to, even when it’s more work, set up, cooking and clean up than you wanted to deal with. The magic moments when others are enjoying your Sukkah, when you blow the shofar, when you break the fast, when you dance and sing and drink around the long, open, beautiful blessing that is our Torah, those magic moments fill you in a way that none other can.
We fill our hearts with mitzvah magic and do it SO much in such a short time, it really does leave a void. Maybe it works out that way to allow us to reflect on what just happened and how we can keep those magic moments going all year long. Maybe we need an intense, tiring new year to keep our hearts full of passion and joy and thoughtfulness as long as possible, before they start to fade and slip back into our day to day ways. Maybe it can inspire us to create more magic more often. I know it will for me.
How will I handle my high holiday hangover? With a healthy dose of Rosh Chodesh. Because, although it’s not something I normally celebrate, why not? There’s magic in the moon and mitzvah in my heart.
May the Schwartz Be With You