That Mythical Time

Apples and honey

Apples and honey by Sarah Ross, on Flickr

Well, I survived Rosh HaShanah and the Shabbat that came after it. I led services, read Torah, and helped keep things reasonably under control at our alternative service. I think people liked it.

Now we are in the crazy week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. These ten days are called the Ten Days of Repentance, or also between the Covering and the Tenth, referring to the new moon that accompanies the beginning of the new year (and the new month of Tishrei). It’s a chance to clear our books, so to speak – apologise to anyone we may have wronged, including ourselves, prepare for the serious fast we have coming up (25 hours with no food or water, along with some strenuous praying!). I find the dehydration is the hardest part, especially when I am active in the service, as I will be this year.

My particular challenge right now is to learn the special High Holy Day trope, or cantillation for the Yom Kippur morning Torah reading. I tried to learn it for the second day of Rosh HaShanah, which was the first time I read a High Holy Day Torah reading, but I just wasn’t confident enough in it, so I used the regular trope. But I’d like to do the Yom Kippur one properly if I can. It’s a weird, haunting trope, not easy to learn, but I know other people can do it, so I’m trying. I’ll have to see how it goes.

Most other things are on hold until what my father calls the mythical time of “acharei hachagim”, after the holidays. That’s what happens in Israel. You can’t talk to a government bureaucrat or get your car fixed this time of year – everything is put off until “acharei hachagim”. In that distant, almost Messianic time, we will be done with the holidays and can get back to the business of living. This year, I’ve marked October 19th as the time when people can expect me to pay attention to other things.

Of course, because I don’t know what’s good for me, on top of all the holiday preparations, I’ve signed up to do four coaching courses before November 3rd, when I’ll start an intensive practicum. Two of them are self-taught, which means I can do them at my own pace – that means I need to make time for them that isn’t Yom Tov or something else! Yes, I’m nuts. But the practicum is being offered now, and I need to have done these four courses before I can take it, and my next chance would be next May or so. So I’m going for it.

Please forgive me if you don’t hear much from me in the next few weeks. All being well, I’ll be back in the land of the living “acharei hachagim”.

Wishing everyone who observes an easy fast, a joyous Sukkot and a meaningful season all around. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

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