One of the best things about sitting in synagogue for long stretches over the High Holidays could arguably be just that — sitting for long stretches.
How often do we get the opportunity in our normally crazy, busy lives to park ourselves for hours, to take the time for introspection and self-awareness?
For most of us, it’s all too rare.
Fortunately, we get that opportunity for a brief, sweet period each year during the aptly named Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.
Perhaps that explains at least in part the sustaining and powerful draw of these holidays, the swell of synagogue attendance that contrasts so dramatically with the rest of the year, at least in non-Orthodox communities.
Of course, it’s not exactly relaxing to take an accounting of your life. The metaphorical numbers don’t always add up the way we might like. But the process can be cleansing.
It enables us to shut out the constant noise around us — the noise that accompanies both the pleasant aspects that give our lives meaning and the not-so-pleasant stresses that occupy too much of our time and attention.
The pages of the Jewish Exponent during this holiday period have been filled with essays about how to find meaning in the liturgy we read each year: how to put the “high” back in the High Holidays; what it means Jewishly to confess our sins; how to ensure that we stick to the vows we’ve made.
These concepts are difficult to grasp at best — and nearly impossible, unless we take the time to try.
The challenge, of course, is to carry this focus beyond the walls of the synagogue into our everyday lives,when we’re running, as we usually are, rather than sitting.
It takes a concerted effort to find more time for ourselves, for our family and friends, for our community.
As we approach the midpoint of this solemn and festive period — and as we look ahead to Sukkot and Simchat Torah — we should think about spending more time in that restful, contemplative mode.
It may go against the grain for many of us, but it could do wonders in helping achieve that work/life balance that is so elusive.
It could further enable us to find new meaning and purpose in our days.
We wish all our readers an easy fast and a g’mar chatimah tovah. May we all be sealed in the Book of Life.