An Easy Fast Doesn’t Provide Atonement

This happens to me…Every Year. In the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I become more restless and unsettled.

Every year I write posts about this and share thoughts about religion, casting away sins and self love.

There are levels of intolerance discussed within these pages. As a father I think about what sort of obligation I have towards my children and I ask myself if I am hitting the mark.

The Truck Driver

My son walks into my office today and tells me about how this truck driver intentionally blocked an aisle in the parking lot today and forced cars to drive the wrong way.

“Dad, he told mom and I to use common sense and go the other way.”

I asked him if the man was rude or polite. He says the guy was obnoxious.

“Dad, because he wouldn’t move mom and all these other cars had to drive the wrong way, we almost had an accident.”

His story sets me off and I ask for a description of the man. My son wants to know if he can go along for the ride and I say no. “Dad, I want to see what happens.”

I tell him not to worry and that I am going to take care of this. He looks at me and asks why I look so angry and I tell him that it the driver’s behavior is unacceptable and I am going to fix things.

As I walk out the door I hear multiple voices asking me to remain calm.I turn, smile and say don’t worry.

Five minutes later I reach the shopping center and the truck is still parked there. It is blocking an entire aisle so I am confident all I need to do is find the driver.

The Truck Driver

I see a man pushing a hand truck towards the juice store and I am certain he is the driver. I park my car, take pictures of the truck and head over to the store.

There is a juice store employee standing outside. I ask him if they normally receive deliveries at 4:15 and he says no. This one was supposed to be there at 7 Am.

“Why didn’t you tell him to move his truck to the far side of the lot so that he wouldn’t cause a traffic jam in the lot?” There is silence and then the employee shrugs his shoulders at me.

I explain why I am angry and mention that this store put my family at risk. It doesn’t matter who was driving. He is part of the problem. He says he is sorry and offers me a smoothie. I say no and then the driver reappears in front.”

“Did you tell a woman and a boy to use common sense?”

There is a hard edge in my voice and I feel my hands flexing. He tells me that he said use common sense but claims he was talking to himself.

“So you ignored your own advice, chose to block traffic and then almost created a six or seven car pile up.”

He takes a step backwards and apologizes, but I am not pacified.

“I am not a woman. I am not a 12 year-old boy. Tell me to use common sense. Ignore me. It is what you did before. Pretend your work is more important than the safety of others. Pretend that I am not the very angry father of the family you put at risk!”

I know I am on the verge of shouting. If he doesn’t apologize I am going to make the kind of scene he doesn’t want. But he does apologize again. He tells me the other driver was sick and that he is sorry.

“You should be thankful I wasn’t hear to see you put lives at risk. You should be thankful I am not any more upset than I am, but we aren’t through. I will submit a complaint. That is not me wagging my tongue. That is a promise.  Next time show some consideration for others.

Atonement

Night falls and I think about what happened. I don’t feel badly about what I said or that I filed a complaint. Safety comes first and there is no excuse for his parking his truck that way. I am certain he tried to take advantage of being a man who was faced with some children and angry moms.

Yet I can’t help but think of my own mistakes. I am not perfect. There are lots of things you can rap my knuckles for.

It won’t be long before Yom Kippur officially starts and my fast begins. It won’t be long before I have ample time to focus my attention again inwards and ask all the hard questions.

I read Torah every Yom Kippur for a little more than 25 years, but I haven’t read the last two and I miss it. Can’t decide why I miss it, but I know that I do. Not sure that it is important.

My gut tells me that the past several years have lead to this point and that we are on the verge of something really big. Good things are coming, or so I think. And so I take a moment to listen to the words of the songs below and to think.

Some words continue to remain unread.

The Time That Jack Got Drunk With 613 Rabbis

It is almost time to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. If you don’t want to use the link you can rely upon my trusty cliff notes on why we celebrate

They tried to kill us

We survived

They Lost

Let’s Eat.

My kids had great fun giving out Mishloach Manot which did not look as nice as those below, but that is ok, because the point isn’t to pass out the best looking, most expensive or most incredible baskets now is it. On the other hand I wouldn’t complain if we had the best Hamantaschen, because let’s face it that would be pretty cool, or maybe not.

Gaily wrapped baskets of sweets, drinks and ot...

Image via Wikipedia

My friend The Rebbetzin’s Husband has a post about drinking on Purim that is worth reading.  I know, not all of my readers are MOT (members of the tribe) so you aren’t familiar with the drinking that goes on. Nor are you likely to be conversant with discussions of how drunk Jews are or are not supposed to get on Purim.

Suffice it to say that I am not in favor of underage drinking nor will I be so drunk that my children wonder how dad can walk. I will however have more than a sniff and perhaps a snort. Rumor has it that a couple of the boys have a special bottle that we’ll enjoy after the Megillah reading and I can’t deny that I am sort of looking forward to it.

At the same time I don’t feel a need to be hungover later so I’ll be measured in my consumption. Nor can I tell you whether I will be in costume or not. I might. I know a few people who like to go in their pajamas but I don’t think that is me.

Loaned Hef my smoking jacket and never did get it back.

Anyhoo, it is almost time to run and some of you are going to ask about the time that I got drunk with 613 rabbis and yes, I have some stories. Hell, I have more than a few stories but I just don’t have time to tell them now. Perhaps I’ll share more later.

In the interim here some past posts about the holiday:

Timing & Time Management

Life is nothing but a series of moments in time set against the backdrop of the people who share them.My goal is put myself in a position to savor and enjoy as much of that as possible. It is part of why I stopped wearing a watch. Those are the words I shared in a comment on my friend Kaarina’s post about time. Go read it, she makes some really good points.

Me? I am stuck in a moment that I can’t quite slip out of. I am lost in thought about a friend whose nine month old son died suddenly and another who lost her mother and sister this month. I am lost in thought about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and these words stick with me

“On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquillity and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

The children ask me about this. They ask me for my thoughts and look up at me with wide eyed innocence wondering what I will say. The dark haired beauty wraps her hands around my bicep, “abba, make a muscle for me.” I smile and flex. She tells me that I am strong, but not stronger than G-d and then immediately looks into my eyes to see what sort of reaction I provide.

I tell her to go check the other muscle and then I lift her up and listen to her giggle. ‘There are two things that I want you and your brother to remember about this time of year.”  I pause for emphasis and then continue, “now is when you think about what kind of person you are and what kind you want to be.”

“You need to be good because it is the right thing to do and not because you are afraid of getting punished.” She nods her head and her brother finishes my thoughts for me, explains to her that we are responsible for our actions and for determining our future.

“Why did the baby die?” She must have overheard a conversation because I certainly didn’t tell her. “I don’t know. Sometimes there aren’t answers”

+++++

I am working hard to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves because life is short and I can’t stomach the idea of missing out on them. I am working on my writing and trying to assemble the pieces of a story that I see in my head. Pieces that remind me that The Rules Of Blogging are things that I have applied to it or maybe the story is something that I have applied to blogging.

And I remind myself that this moment that I am living in now is so very short and it is my obligation to push harder to do the things that I want to do and live the life I want to live.  That wacky Shmata Queen has been lurking around here and though she doesn’t comment she knows that I harp on certain things. She knows that when I play ball I love to rebound. Rebounding isn’t about height, speed or strength- it is about effort. It is about desire. It is about who is willing to run one step further and that is why basketball can be used as a metaphor for life.

+++++

There is a rhyme and a reason to why I use this joint to suss out my thoughts and declutter my mind. It is not because I can be a moody bastard or for anything other than because it helps me manage my time. And the way that it does that is by providing me with a venue in which I can determine what is most important to me. It provides a platform for me to speak to myself first in words that cannot be ignored. Read through these posts and you’ll see me illustrate how the past few years have had a bunch of rough spots. I don’t sugar coat it. While there have been great moments of joy there has been misery too.

This is where I call myself to the carpet and demand that I chart a new course based on what makes me happiest. This is where I start to map it out and that my friends is how I manage my time. I know where it is I am trying to go and what it is I am trying to do. Better to try to get there and fail than not to try at all.

And to my fellow MOTs I want to wish you all a Shana Tova Umetukah. May 5772 bring you all that you hope for and desire.

It Happened One Yom Kippur

My post about Thomas inspired me to dig through my archives. I came across some really good posts that made me smile and decided to share a few with you. This is one of them. It was originally posted here.

My son may be five now but he is still young enough that it is not unusual for me to have to carry the sleeping boy from the car to his bed. Actually if I am not driving it is not all that unusual for me to sleep in the car, but then again I can sleep anytime, in any position and anywhere.

This evening reminded me of an experience that he and I shared a number of years ago. He might have been just short of two or maybe he was slightly older, I am not really sure. It was one of those powerful moments that imprint themselves on your brain in such a way that you remember them as if they happened in a different lifetime that took place yesterday.

Yes, that is an awkward way of phrasing it but I am not really sure of what words to use to describe it and surreal isn’t quite descriptive enough.

If I close my eyes I can see myself. I am wearing a doublebreasted black suit and a big black and white tallis. My tallis is quite large, actually it is a little bit too big for me but that is a separate story. My father is seated next to me and he is holding my son on his lap. The proud grandfather is beaming. His smile is as large as I have ever seen. He is playing peek-a-boo with his grandson, who is only too happy to use my tallis as the place in which he hides his face.

The time comes to say the Shmoneh Esreh and so we stand. Davening isoftendifficult for me so I often pull my tallis over my head and close my eyes so that I can really focus. As we rise my son reaches out for me and without thinking I take him into my arms and wrap my tallis around the two of us.

Now both of our heads are covered and we make eye contact. He smiles at me and I smile back. He is so very little and I see so much potential in him. For a moment I am choked up. I remember looking at that little face and blessing him. How could I not, it is one of the ways I have of trying to really express my love and appreciation for him and his sister.

When I finished he pulled me close and kissed my cheek. I remember that little body hugging me and within a moment or two he was asleep on my shoulder. I can remember shockeling to the tiny snores in my ear and really feeling my tefillah. It was one of those moments in time in which my own kavanah was exceptional and I really felt the connection to something greater than myself.

These are the moments that I treasure because I really do feel like I am getting a glimpse of a special place. It is a sneak preview of a world that I want to live in but I wonder if it really exists. I suppose that in time I may find out, until then I’ll continue my journey down the paths I discover and explore them to see what lies beyond the bend.

Haveil Havalim #238- The We Love The Dodgers/Angels Edition!


Welcome to Haveil Havalim #238, The We Love The Dodgers/Angels Edition!. Also known as the Best of the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere. (My apologies for the formatting, it is a little wonky today.)

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs — a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term ‘Haveil Havalim,’ which means “Vanity of Vanities,” is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other ‘excesses’ and realized that it was nothing but ‘hevel,’ or in English, ‘vanity.’

Israel


Read Rabbi Daniel Gordis’s post No Right to Exhaustion in which he discusses the challenges of loving Israel and who has a right to be tired. 


My Right Word disagrees with the OU position on The Temple Mount.


EOZ shared The diplomacy of fear, 2009. At Solomonia Vanessa Redgrave Gets It…Almost Right?


At Good News from Israel you can read about the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel Prize. Other bloggers such  Artzeinu covered it too in Israel Professor Wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry.


Life in Israel blogged about Painted Donkeys. Everyone loves Pin Ups. Israelity remembers Mercedes Sosa and talks about Cleaning up after desert.


Religion and State in Israel has their usual round up parts one and two.


Baila wrote about Gilad’s message. Reminds me to remind you to keep tweeting, “Free Shalit.” I am not the only one thinking about Gilad.


At Torat Zion you can read Israel enters into “alliance” with Rappahanock Tribe. At Harry’s Place you can enjoy Nora Clean’s guide to boycotting Zionist entities.


Daled Amos shared The Goldstone Report: Protector Of (Palestinian) Women. Maybe this is a J-Street Joke.


Yaacov Lozowick blogged Goldstone: Curioser and Curioser. Israellycool shared The Day In Israel: Sun Oct 11th, 2009.

Politics

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. I tried not to go overboard on this, but there are an enormous number of posts covering it. Incidentally, for those who claim that this is a right wing carnival I did my best to include posts from left wing bloggers as well. 


Guess what, they don’t like it either.


Yourish had The Miss America President wins the Miss America Peace Prize
Joshuapundit covered it over here
The Rebbetzin’s Husband issued an opinion here.
Fink or Swim
Jewish Atheist 
Conversations in Klal
Dovbear
Jack
The Muqata
Soccerdad
Daniel Pipes
Daled Amos
Tel Chai Nation
Oleh Girl
Bookworm


Daled Amos New Poll Reveals Whether Being Pro-Israel Matters To American Jewish Voters.


At Commentary Noah Pollak compares and contrasts the leadership styles of Obama and Netanyahu in  Compare and Contrast.

Ingathered compares Obama to Chamberlain. Joshuapundit has the results from the Watcher’s Council.
Somebody has the Post Yom Kippur Blues. At Boker Tov Boulder take a look at 63 pct Support Negotiations with Iran, but 64 pct Say Negotiations Won’t Succeed.


Judaism
From The Rebbetzin’s Husband, A good minyan is like a well-written novel and Spawning a  Kugel Generation.


Shtetl Fabulous is writing about the Spirit in the Sky. A Simple Jew shared the New Tactics of My Holy Yetzer Ha-Rah.


If you were Harry-er-than them all spoke about Shidduchim. From The Torah Revolution we have the Shallow Truth about Har Habayit and the Kotel.


Balashon greets us all with a Petek. Ingathered cautions against using Etrog Jam.


Ilana Davita has a Must Read post. The Real Shaliach writes about the love that Esau has for us. There is food for thought there. Do you agree.


Have Succah Will Travel– If that headline doesn’t encourage you to read I don’t know what will. Jewschool covered Succot as well.


The Velveteen Rabbi wrote about what it means to celebrate in our Sukkah. Snoopy wrote about Mad Mahmoud’s Jewish Roots.


Planck’s Constant covered The Number of Jews Who Have Won Nobel Prizes. Schvach defined What a Shiksa is.


My Right Word has proof that Psalms do Protect. Shira writes about touching others. The Wolf says that some people think He is Deviant.


Isramom is reflecting on Women, Torah and Brachot. Ariel is talking about Avinu Malkeinu.


Leora discussed Sephardi Piyut of Rosh Hashanah. Esther’s Television is Jewish.



Miscellaneous
One of the many reasons I like Seraphic Secret is because we are in agreement about The Sound of Music. At Ben Yehudah’s joint you’ll find Orthodox Jewish Boxer To Vie For Crown.


You have to read about Mottel and The Dragon Man. NY’s Funniest Rabbi is thinking Deep Thoughts. More importantly in some respects, please go to his blog and wish his father a Happy Birthday.


Shtetl Fabulous has recipes to share. KRG covered Jewgrass at Jewschool.
I wrote A Fearful Society- Rearing Children in a Scary World.


Ann’s Rants blogged about a first blogiversary. The Ima has been reading a lot of books. Elms in the Yard wrote about hiking.


Go read Benji’s Can I Get A Freaking Vowel In Here. GP has a Hankering for Challah.



That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
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