Friday, October 17, 2014

A Time to Dance

As the Sukkot holiday came to an end, many Israelis attended the traditional Hakafot Shniot (Second Hakafot).  At these Hakafot, Torahs are brought out, hakafot are read/sung before a crowd with a live band, and hundreds of people who are ready to dance the night away.  It is truly a breathtaking sight...Hundreds of men, women, and children dancing the night away...yet again, to the tunes of old, as well as new tunes.
In my home town, we have an eight piece band.  Local musicians, and musicans from other nearby locales all conjoin to create a Band of the Ages.  Kids and adults dance their hearts out to the thumping Judaic beats.  Israelis, Americans, South Africans, Canadians, Ethiopians, Yeminites, Moroccans...we are ALL represented in the throngs of dancing madness.
It is truly a KIbbutz Galiot (Ingathering of the Nations) on our home town basketball court.  Old, and young...everyone is up and dancing their hearts to the beat.
Why do we do it? Why do we want to dance, isn't there tons of cleaning to do after the holiday? Wouldn't we rather go out to a movie, or chill at home with the TV?
I think we all partake in the madness because it is a celebration.  The end of Sukkot is the end of the time of Teshuva that we began from the month of Elul.  We have officially closed the door to the New Year.  Now, we can officially celebrate the New Year in style...with song, dance, good food, and terrific friends.  As it says in Kolelet (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
עֵת לִבְכּוֹת          וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק,
עֵת סְפוֹד         וְעֵת רְקוֹד.
There is a time to cry, and a time to laugh, A time to wail, and a time to dance!
We will enter this New Year with the knowledge that there will be both good times and bad times, but we must always put our best foot forward, and try to be as positive as we can. No life is ever perfect, but if we dance, we can make it all much more manageable!  So, put on those dancing shoes and dance your hearts out this year!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time for Change

It is traditional for one to use the time between Yom Kippur and Sukkot as a time of reflection.  It is a time for contemplating the sins atoned for, and hoping towards a New Year, bereft of such sins.  I find this one of the hardest times of the year.  It is a time of limbo...where we can suddenly move forward, full-speed ahead. Or, we can lapse into the mundane life of banality of the past year.
The Misrad Hahinuch (Israel Board of Education) declared that children must go to school during this period of time this year. Usually, children have off from the Yom Kippur holiday, through Sukkot. But, alas, the children are now in us a bit more time for reflection and introspection.
I keep wondering...what can I do to make this year better for me, for my family, for the country, and for the world? I guess it is best that I start with myself...improving all of the little things that I need to work on. But, it needs to be more global, as well.  I think it is time for all of us to chose something of value, which is close to our hearts, and actually DO IT.  It must be something that affects others in a way that is outside of our own comfort zones.  If we each take the time to choose a particular mitzvah (good deed), then perhaps we have all collectively made this world a bit of a better place for us all to inhabit.
There was once a local business in our area called "Time for Change." It was a cash exchanging place that exchanged dollars for shekels, Euros for shekels, etc.  The moniker was brilliant.  Whenever I passed by the business, I wondered to myself "What can I change today? What midah (internal characteristic) can I work on today?"  Eventually the business changed their name. But, the message still remains with me.  We ALWAYS have time to change.  We just have to make the time to do it.
Patience is the key.  And so, I am here making new choices during this "gesher" (bridge of days between the Yom Kippur and Sukkot holiday). And, I hope others are doing the same...patiently making the new destiny of a time for change.