October 5, 2021

I was sad. This does not happen very often for me and it is probably not why you may think. It has nothing to do with what is going on in the country or the world. Don’t get me wrong… seeing the unwanted devastation and unnecessary sickness and illness definitely saddens me as it should. No… this sadness is caused by something else. 


As you are most likely aware, last week was the end of our Jewish holiday season with Simchat Torah. Once the Torahs were put away after being danced around and re-rolled back to the beginning of Genesis as we embark once again on the annual reading cycle of the Torah, Judaism’s fall festivities are over. Although this year’s holy days celebrations were once again tempered due to COVID, they were still special. But when they concluded I was sad. And yet, that sadness has already subsided.


Tomorrow is the last day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei and Thursday begins Cheshvan. Since there are no special occasions during this month, some Jews add the word mar (Hebrew word meaning bitter) in front to call it Marcheshvan.


For me, I have never really believed in that bitterness of not having any Jewish celebrations. Sad yes… bitter… no. Maybe because I have always felt a “newness” in the air at this time of year, a feeling of new and wonderful possibilities. The start of a school year, the start of football season, and the excitement of the start of the baseball playoffs. 


In addition to this newness, I have always tried to live in the moment and appreciate what is around us. As I watched the sky during last night’s incredible lightning show and sudden storm I was reminded of this. The sound of the rain hitting the roof as the clouds and sky were lit up by the lightning was awe-inspiring. As I listened and watched, I was transported back in time when I watched and experienced another lightning storm when I lived in Maryland. Watching streaks of lightning dance across the sky and resounding booms from the thunder were just as awesome. 


In these moments, I am reminded of the importance to stop and appreciate the world around us. As technology has continued to evolve and envelop our lives the way it has, we sometimes forget how extraordinary our world is. Yes, there is chaos and devastation in the world, but there is also astounding beauty and splendor if we remember to look up (or away) from our screens so we can see it.


In the days and weeks ahead, rather than feeling “bitter” that we have to wait all the way until November 28 for the next Jewish holiday (Hanukkah) to arrive, find other things to celebrate and appreciate. In the immortal words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift… that’s why they call it the present.”


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