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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Rosh HaShanah



The birthday of the world, as we say in the services. The only holiday that is two days both in Exile and in Israel - the other two day ones are only one day in Israel, and Yom Kippur is one day everywhere because fasting two days - no food, no water = bad.

This year it fell Saturday-Sunday, which is great. It means no days off of work/school. It means a full week between holidays/Sabbath. It means only two days to prepare for, instead of three in a row. Given that the other holidays this month (excepting Yom Kippur) always fall on the same days, that makes a difference. Last year, they were Tuesday/Wednesday. No sooner did Shabbat end then you were preparing for the holiday, and right after the holiday comes Shabbat. You manage - you always manage - but it's a pain. And the fact that I chose to move right in the middle would have made it all ridiculous, if I didn't have wonderful local friends who made sure we had all our holiday/Sabbath meals covered until the holidays ended.

So. Rosh HaShanah. I was completely relaxed when the Sabbath/holiday began - my chicken and carrots and storebought kugel were in the oven, I had my long burning candle lit, I was showered and dressed in something rather nice even though I wasn't leaving the house that night, and all was well. Jonathan came in a bit late and had to rush around to get showered and dressed and out the door, but that's normal. And dinner was lovely - lemon and thyme do wonderful things to chicken, we had several good luck foods - apples and honey for a sweet year, carrots for wealth, pomegrantes for numbers, fish for fertility. We even got to bed at a reasonable hour.

I made a mistake the next morning. I chose to wear my suit, which was more or less comfortable this past Monday. That day, it felt tighter than usual. Maybe I'm retaining water. Also, it has a slit in the skirt, so I have to wear tights with it, and I chose to wear my good shoes. I looked okay - like a Flatbush matron, but okay. My synagogue, thank goodness, is not a fashion parade like many around here are. I topped off my outfit with my white hat and I was set.

And the basement room which is my synagogue was hot, with the a/c less than optimal for the eventual numbers of people. I was assigned a good seat, and Jonathan had placed my machzor, my Rosh HaShanah prayerbook, on my chair. Most synagogues have a standard machzor so they can call out page numbers and so on. My synagogue doesn't have enough, so everyone brought their own. Most were from one particular publisher, most of the rest from another. Mine was unique there - an Israeli all-Hebrew machzor in Ashkenazi liturgy. My Hebrew isn't great, but English is, for me, a crutch.

The services themselves were fine and I had no problems following - the cantors were straightforward and clear and not too fancy. I don't like fancy davening. The rabbi gave a lovely speech about how Sabbath was prememinent, which was why we don't blow shofar, the ram's horn, on Shabbat, and of course, we don't do tashlich, either. That the sound of silence was more profound than even the sound of a shofar in calling us to repentence. And, wisely, we took a break between the very long mornig service and the very long additional service to have kiddush, instead of waiting until the very end. I think the infusion of honey cake, diet coke and orange juice made a difference.

However. The place was warm. I was wearing a heavy suit that was tight on me and that I could not unbutton because I don't wear it with a blouse. It's designed to be worn without a shirt, although I had buttons put in so I could attach a modesty panel. It was stiff and heavy, and I felt more like I was inhabiting it than anything else. Also, the floor was *hard* - tile over concrete - and my shoes weren't thick enough. Normally, I stand during the long repititions of the central prayers. This time, I sat when it was permitted.

As soon as I got home, I changed into an old skirt and a t-shirt. :)

Other than my discomfort, which from my own poor choices, the morning was lovely. We finished at 1:20, which was earlier than we're used to. I made a goat cheese, pear and pecan salad for lunch, forgetting to change my sink (I only have one) from meat to dairy beforehand, so I was stuck with it and the dishes until after dark, when I would make a dairy meal anyway. Can't do anything on the Sabbath or a holiday for a following day, even if the following day is a holiday itself, and there is a ceremony one must do before a Friday holiday so that one can prepare on Friday afternoon for the Sabbath - not just food, but things like lighting the Sabbath candles, which must be done before dark. It is permissible to light candles on a holiday.

I made sea bass for dinner, starting when it was full dark. I also reheated my vegetable soup, adding some alphabet noodles. Nothing came out perfect, but Jonathan loved the fish.

Today. Today was much better, although somewhat hotter. I put on a new outfit - rust paisley skirt and plain rust jacket. It's also meant to be worn without a shirt, but it buttons too low, so I wore a man's white t-shirt. And unbuttoned the top button.

And my husband walked into the room and said, "My God, you're gorgeous." I smiled for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, the skirt fit and the top was comfortable, and I could wear knee-highs instead of tights, and I wore my sneakers instead of my dress shoes. The only problem was that we came late. I had to catch up really fast.

The shofar blowing had its problems - namely, our baal tokea has no trumpet lip. So he got tired. But it was...enough. I could hear the call to arms, and the sobs of repentence. Again, it was all nice. And then we went to a friend's house for lunch. We could have done tashlich in her backyard, but I don't do tashlich. But lunch was very nice, even if I sat next to a true *ditz*. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm a smart snob. I tried to be patient and nice, but inside I just. Needed someone else to talk to. Luckily, there were others. And we chatted until 5:30, when Jonathan had to go back to synagogue.

One holiday down; three to go.

Comments
Sounds lovely...

It sounds like you had a good holiday; I did cleaning up instead of cooking, and my mom sure knows how to entertain! There were 14 for dinner erev Rosh Hashanah and 15 for the second night. A wonderful time was had by all. More details pending.

I was wondering: why don't you do Tashlikh? I haven't heard of someone choosing not to participate in the service before.

A sweet New Year to you... (I confused the woman sitting next to me on the plane trip home by saying 'new year, time to restart all the good habits I lost last year...' she said 'um, it's not a new year yet...')

Why no tashlick?

Um. Severa reasons. One is that it does nothing for *me* spiritually or otherwise - I just feel silly tossing bread. Two is that it's just a custom, not a halacha, *and* there is evidence that the act of feeding fish not yours is even forbidden on a holiday, so that goes even further. Three is that, to put it baldly, it's superstitious. It's feeding your sins to the water demon. This may feel very satisfying to a lot of people, and it's certainly become ingrained in Ashkenazi thought, but it doesn't fit with me. I'm actually a fairly rational person.

And there's more. A few years ago, I was talking to a young Jewish woman who spent the first day of Rosh HaShanah at a fair, because she was working there and she didn't want to disappoint anyone. But, she said, I *did* do Tashlich! This was, to me, like spinning a dreidel without lighting the menorah, or hiding the afikomen but not bothering with the rest of the seder. The sole mitzvah of Rosh HaShanah is to hear the shofar being blown, assuming it's not a Sabbath. Feeding fish doesn't cut it, but because tashlich has become such a big symbol of the day, this young woman thought she'd discharged her obligations.

I know a lot of people love tashlich, and the evidence that it's actually forbidden on a nonSabbath is shaky, but I don't choose to do it.