October 27, 2019

After The Chagim Syndrome

It feels like we have all just completed an ultramarathon – 23 days of holidays.

It all begins on the first of Tishrei with Rosh Hashana, then rolls into Yom Kippur and speeds up like an avalanche coming down a mountain gathering force. 

We barely eat after the fast before we take out our hammers and poles to build sukkahs. And then we sit outside in our booths where we eat, pray, see family and friends. 

And just when we adjust to our outdoor reality, it’s over. Goodbye Sukkah – the ‘avalanche’ is back, grabbing us until we reach the joy and dancing of Simchat Torah. 

We are dizzy, breathless, yet on the 21st of Tishrei, the avalanche is in full force and we hold on for life.

We dance, we sing and we don’t know where, after so many holidays, the energy and impulse could possibly come from. But then...boom!  It stops, slamming the brakes so hard, it feels like whiplash.

Sore. Dizzy. Overweight. Dazed. I think I may have a severe case of ‘After the Chagim Syndrome.’ I really should put the pieces of my pre-Tishrei life back together. 

All the items on my to-do list are overdue; packages I purchased online from abroad have simply disappeared -- even the dental crown that was ordered for me has not turned up at the dentist. And I cannot even pick up the phone to pay the parking ticket that nags at me.

One would think that after a month with no routine, I would be motivated to get back into the swing of things. 

Yet. I. Cannot. Move.

I will simply let it run its course as there is surely wisdom behind such a spiritually packed month followed by a blank slate. The intensity and energy of dancing, hours of supplication in prayer, the piercing of the shofar, the festive meals, the rustle of a luvav and a starry sky seen through the slats of my sukkah.

It’s as if I have left a wedding where a band plays loudly. Entering a silent garden, I still hear the ringing in my ears, and am relieved to finally be in serene silence.

And just as the memories of our sweet High Holy Days recede, the evenings become chilly. Rain falls, lightning streaks across the sky. The clocks turn back and we now sit indoors as darkness envelops us.

As I look across the dark, lonely mountains, I imagine Jews living here in the times of The Temple. Just before the cold winds howled, rain pummeled and darkness descended, they had their month of festivities to gain the spiritual strength needed to endure.

It is the light of our celebration that will sustain us and fuel our faith. I will embrace this sudden, jolting change in pace and let it take me to a deep and silent place.