I really love holidays in Israel. The holiday spirit is all around you, especially in the religious neighborhoods. One can feel the excitement when everyone is shopping for yom tov, everyone is buying honey, everyone is building a
sukkah, when the arba minim sale signs are all around the neighborhood and parking lots sprout piles of lumber and sukkah decorations appear in all the stores including the supermarkets. When you are so immersed in it, it's harder
to let the holidays pass you by without leaving some sort of an impact. It's really special to be surrounded by uniquely Jewish things and to live with the jewish calendar and to realize that your life has taken on a purely Jewish
rhythm and you suddenly feel disoriented and bewildered when a relative from overseas talks about Labor Day or other legal holidays which are no longer relevant to your reality. When Sunday is a regular work day like any other, when all the offices are open and kids have school and the words "holiday season" mean something entirely different from what they mean in the US. So here we are, 5770. It was a beautiful holiday. The kids were very excited about all the interesting simanim. Some got to go to shul and participate for the first time. We took care to decorate the table in the extra special way. The dual nature of the day with its' seriousness on one hand with the excitement and sweet anticipation on the other hand. Reflection and prayer intertwined with children's play. Inspiring speeches and the raw sounds of the shofar blasts. The special High Holidays tunes. Delicious meals with family and friends and the normal ups and downs of trying to feel the spiritual energy of the day while cleaning up and breaking up squabbles. Even the weather kept switching from sunny and hot to breezy and overcast, to sometimes rainy (highly unusual for this time of the year here). Trying to think of resolutions for the new year while dealing with ear aches and rumbling tummies. Going to the park, wishing everyone you know a shana tova, answering amen to all the new year's wishes and blessings you get in return. The holiday itself is a good metaphor for one's spiritual journey, sometimes you feel on top of the world and sometimes you are gripped by fear and despair and feelings of inadequacy. Did I try hard enough? What do I want to accomplish in the coming year? Were my mistakes so bad? Were my good deeds really that good? What can I contribute to the Jewish people? How can I change in a meaningful way? It's a time of love. It's a time of Judgement. Is it the direction that's important? How about the individual triumphs and slip ups? What about the Jewish people? What about the ones that are lonely, hurting, lost?What about the ones who don't even realize they are lost? What about all of us? What about Hashem? What would he like for us to do today? What will it take to finally get things right in the cosmic, global sense? How about on the personal level, what will it take? One can't look into the future, but no matter what the year will bring, in many ways it's been a good Rosh Hashana.