Now What?

Friday, 21 October, 2022 - 1:12 pm

We made it through the month of holidays! We not only survived, we actually thrived! It was an exhilarating marathon of somber and joyous moments. The serious moments such as the sounding of the Shofar Rosh Hashanah or proclaiming the Shema at the end of Yom Kippur. The joyous moments such as entering the Sukkah to beautiful weather on the first night of Sukkot or dancing the night away on Simchat Torah. We had the opportunity to be reflective, introspective, nostalgic, hopeful, confident, yearning, fulfilled, thrilled, celebratory, and exhausted. Now what? It is almost six months until the next Biblical holiday and two months to Chanukah. How are we going to maintain the inspiration of the holiday month?

I have two solutions to offer. Both are needed and they feed off each other.

The first is that we must view the holiday month as a shopping spree. We filled our basket with all the above-mentioned experiences. Despite the disagreement of some in this reading audience, shopping is not an end unto itself. There is a point where one leaves the mall, walks to the car, and drives home with a full trunk of merchandise. Once we arrive at home, we unpack the bags and begin to enjoy the acquisitions. So too with the holiday inspiration. Now is the time to start unpacking and utilizing all that we have experienced over the past month.

The second solution is to turn our focus to freshly started Torah cycle. It is no coincidence that we start the Torah over following the inspiration of the holidays. We are enthusiastic about Judaism. We are excited about our connection to Hashem. We want to learn more about how to nurture that connection. Enter the Torah. With renewed passion we can dive deeply into the weekly Torah portions and glean ongoing inspiration. We can look for new angles that we hadn’t previously uncovered. We can discover new layers of Torah interpretation that capture our interest and keep us zoned in. The first Chabad Rebbe called this exercise, “Living with the Times.” Each week we read the news of the week. It is fresh and relevant. It leaves us hungry for more and more.

Wishing you a wonderful year of exploration and inspiration!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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