Hol Sameach?

I was asked today before my Pirkei Avot class on Saturday afternoon as to whether or not I look forward to the holidays ending. For those who do not know, the Hebrew month of Tishrei (in September and October) features a marathon of holidays-Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot Shmini Atzeret and Simhat Torah. When these holidays conclude, we enter the month of Marheshvan, known as the bitter month because it contains no holidays. Many, however, enjoy this month because of its return to “ordinary time”: regular weeks uninterrupted by preparing meals and holiday prohibitions.

When I was at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the holidays ended, we said to one another “Hol Sameach”-in other words, enjoy “ordinary time,” full weeks without holidays. Like others, I genuinely appreciated this break from holidays (especially in a year like this when the holidays are directly followed by Shabbat). With that being said, I think we are missing something crucial if we celebrate the end of the holiday season. This season is meant for us to be more reflective about how we are living our lives and to celebrate time with friends and family. Now that it is over, and we return to our busy workweeks, the question is have we done that? Have we taken the time to decompress, think about our goals for the coming year, and have the proper mindset to make a difference in the world in which we live? Hopefully we have, so that we will be truly able to have a “Hol Sameach”-joyous and productive weeks of reconnecting with the world.

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