Monday, September 17, 2007

Rosh Hashana Thoughts

I found myself sitting in shul on Rosh Hashana, wishing I was a Reform Jew. Not because I wanted to drive to shul, and not because I wanted to sit next to my wife. The reason is because, comparitavely speaking, they care more about Rosh Hashana than I do. To the Reform Jew that may go to shul only a few times a year, taking off work and school for Rosh Hashana is a big deal. In a sense, their experience of Rosh Hashana is probably more like what it is supposed to be than mine: Rosh Hashana, to them, is the pinnacle of the Jewish year. Unfortunately, for me, in the routine of living every day as an Orthodox Jew, it is and was not.

Now, I think the problem lies in me more than it lies in the "system". That said, as I see it, when you live life 365 days a year as an Orthodox Jew, constantly trying to remember to daven 3 times a day; checking that bag of chips to make sure it has a Hechsher (but not Triangle-K, of course!); patting my head on the way to school to make sure my head is covered, it's only a bit natural that Rosh Hashana can get caught up in the mix of things. After all, the day before Rosh Hashana I was a frum Jew, and the day after Rosh Hashana I was still a frum Jew, so what's the big deal if I slack a little on Rosh Hashana? I found myself with these exact thoughts in shul on the first day of Rosh Hashana.

I suppose this is my test, as I sure it is many others' test in Judaism: to find meaning in the often mundane routine that is Orthodox Judaism. This test will be even harder for me over the next 3 years, as I give my best shot at law school. With more time, the test to find meaning in things is aided by daily shiurim, chavrusas, and other time for individual learning or reading. For me, the week leading up to Rosh Hashana consisted of spending most of my waking time in the library and with the only free time I had trying to catch up with my wife on how her days had been going. Erev Rosh Hashana consisted of school from 9:15-6:10pm. After rushing home to shave and shower, I found myself in shul on Rosh Hashana. The Sifrei Chaim and Meisim (Books of Life and Death) were open in front of me, and I couldn't help but think that the "Two-Times-a-Year" Jews all over the world were more properly prepared to file in from of Hashem like "Kivnei Maron" than I was.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's ridiculous. the vast majority of them show up late, check out the cleavage on the chicks, and leave early to catch the early-bird lunch at the SH (Suburban House for the uninitiated). And this is on Yom Kippur. You are far more advanced in your feelings of teshuva. This of course is a generalization, but I'm someone who's been in both environments. The reform and conservative crowd, and even those 2 time a year people who still go to orthodox shuls (for the sake of Zaidy), do it because they know they have to not because they want to.

11:14 AM, September 17, 2007

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Obviously I wasn't REALLY wishing that I was reform or conservative. I think you missed the point.

11:23 AM, September 17, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

didn't miss the point. i understand what you were saying. you missed my point. my point was - don't be so hard on yourself, you want to be there more than they do, and you grasp the importance of the day 10 times more than they do - even if you are not wholeheartedly crying and intently praying. you ever been to a reform/ conservative/ other type of temple? there's little emotion, it's stone-cold and not real. that's why they are consistently losing numbers while orthodoxy is gaining. (and not just because of birthrate)

1:05 PM, September 17, 2007

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Thanks for your words. And for the record...I grew up in a non-Orthodox shul.

2:20 PM, September 17, 2007

Anonymous Greg said...

Davening takes a lot longer in non-Orthodox shuls.

I have the exact opposite feelings; I don't know how my effort during the rest of the year compares to yours, but I find RH to be a completely unique day with interesting and complex themes, that each year I find something new.

11:59 PM, September 18, 2007

Blogger Adam said...

Breathe in...breathe out. The Holydays definitely require some preparation. Rushing into it must be frustrating. Perhaps there's some inner-guilt (we all have it in some way, shape or form) of not being properly prepared. It's kind of like going to the Kotel for the 1st time and not "feeling"'s frustrating. The good news is that the next few years are temporary. Things will come back around in due time. Breathe in...breathe out. :) ADE

11:15 PM, September 19, 2007

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Adam - where have you been, oh dear scotch drinking buddy?

11:22 PM, September 19, 2007


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