Are you always in a rush? Or at least on a perennial schedule?
I am, as are most people I know, even the so-called “retired” folks who are busier than ever!
For the most part, this is a good thing—we have full, productive and stimulating lives. But always being on the clock can take its toll.
Of course, observant Jews have a wonderful way of dealing with this challenge. It’s called Shabbat. Time slows down for 24 hours. No need to rush through a Friday night dinner, or a Saturday afternoon meal.
Conversations are not limited by needing to be somewhere, so there can be room for rest and reflection.
I confess I do not observe Shabbat in this fashion, but very much admire those who do. However, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I too get a taste of this experience.
During the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we have a minhag (custom) of spending a leisurely luncheon with the same group of dear friends every year. Time stands still as we eat a late lunch, often outdoors, relax on the deck, walk to Tashlich by a charming pond and pay no attention to the clock. The same experience applies on Yom Kippur, in some ways even more so. There’s no reason whatsoever to rush. The longer the conversation with community members, the better. There is nowhere one has to be. The same applies at break fast. Perhaps there is a bit of a rush to ingest a little food and drink, but then there is, once again, the opportunity to remain in slowed-down mode for a few more precious hours.
There’s a saying in Hebrew that Shabbat rest is “Mayayn olam ha-ba,” or “Like the world to come.” For those of us who do not observe Shabbat in this fashion, at the very least the High Holidays give us a taste of that blessed gift of a leisurely pace.
Although preparing for Rosh Hashanah can be very rush-like, the experience of the holidays slows us down and reminds us that we can actually choose to incorporate more leisurely timelessness into our days and weeks if we set our minds to it.
So my wish for myself and all my very busy friends is to do just that, whether on Shabbat or otherwise.
“Taking time to smell the roses” may be a cliche, but then again, it’s a gift we can each give to ourselves.
At the very least, find the time for one leisurely meal in a sukkah and luxuriate in eating outdoors for what could well be your last opportunity this season!
Shana tova and moadim l’simcha!

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