What’s worse than Shabbat? Double Shabbat!

Warning: This is a kvetchy post


/kษ™หˆveCH, kfeCH/


noun: kvetchplural noun: kvetches

  • a person who complains a great deal
    • “She emerges as something of a kvetch, constantly nagging Rick.”
  • a complaint
    • “‘They don’t make ’em like they used to’ has become an all-purpose kvetch.”

verb: kvetch; 3rd person present: kvetches; past tense: kvetched; past participle: kvetched; gerund or present participle: kvetching


Middle High German โžœ Yiddish โžœ North American English (informal)

Jewish New Year

This year, the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah) falls out on the two days (48+ hours) between sunset on Monday and sunset on Wednesday evening ๐Ÿฏ๐ŸŽ

Rosh HaShanah is one of the most significant holidays on the Jewish calendar, as it marks the beginning of what we call ‘The Days of Awe’, a ten day period that ends with the Jewish Day of Judgment – Yom Kippur. According to tradition, that final day, which is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, is the day when God decides “who will live and who will die” – it is the day that God “inscribes” some of us in the ‘Book of life’.

Those are some of the very (very) basics – it’s not my intent to delve into the details of Jewish tradition now, but if you have questions about Jewish theology or practice, I am always more than happy to provide answers!

Jewish religious restrictions

I’ve written before about the fact that I don’t blog on the Sabbath, which begins every Friday at sunset and ends with sunset on Saturday. To grossly oversimplify, this is due to the notion that Jewish tradition forbids making physical changes to the world on Shabbat, and the mainstream consensus among traditional Jewish religious authorities is that Jews should not be using electronics during this ~25 hour weekly period.

Relatedly, there are several major holidays (including Rosh HaShanah) that include most of the religious restrictions that we keep on Shabbat. As such, I will not be blogging for ~49 hours this week, between Monday evening and Wednesday evening. *sigh*

I mean – of course, as always, I’ll schedule my blog posts in advance, as I do before Shabbat every Friday; but if I committedly adhere to Jewish tradition for this Jewish New Year, I will not be able to approve or respond to comments on my blog, nor read other people’s blogs.

Tradition versus meaning

There were years of my life when I used to find “unplugging” from the Internet for the Jewish holidays meaningful. In fact, as per Jewish tradition, I felt compelled to follow such religious laws – perhaps by God – and certainly by the countless generations of Jews who lived and died by our traditions before me.

Frankly, however, those days seem to be behind me (likely forever).

If I’m being honest, I now derive more personal meaning from blogging and composing poetry than praying. I have come to really love writing poetry and sharing it with other creative writers.

Really, if I didn’t have a young child, I probably wouldn’t be maintaining many religious restrictions at this point in my life… But I do feel deeply compelled to pass our people’s traditions along to the next generation, especially because the USSR deliberately snatched them away from my ancestors (only a few generations ago!), which really makes my blood boil.

1 day of “unplugging” v. 2 days

I have written poems about wanting to write poetry on Shabbat (which I don’t do); but suffice it to say that on Saturday nights, when Shabbat has ended, I always plug quickly back into WordPress (as soon as I’ve finished cleaning up the dishes, etc.).

Now, one day of “unplugging” is something that I’ve gotten used to – I’ve been living a traditional Jewish life for many years now as an adult (despite being raised secular) so much of what I do (and don’t do) has become habit for me. In fact, even when I break Jewish religious law, I am always acutely aware of it because I have spent so many years adapting to this traditional way of life and delving into its religious nuances.

Still, unplugging for two days (e.g., Rosh HaShanah) feels much longer to me… In fact, for me, unplugging for any holiday other than Shabbat tends to feel like an onus because I already know that I will also be unplugged for Shabbat that same week… meaning that I will have to be offline for at least 48 hours in total.

Holidays in Israel v. Diaspora

Again, I’m not interested in getting into religious details here (unless you ask), but here’s an important tidbit of information for you: Most Jewish holidays (not Shabbat) are celebrated for an extra day outside of Israel. The major exception to this rule is Rosh HaShanah, which is celebrated for two days in Israel… it is the only holiday celebrated for two days in Israel (instead of one day).

So, this means that for Jews who live traditional religious lives, living in Israel is more convenient in this particular way (and in other ways too): In Israel, five fewer days of holidays with religious restrictions are marked annually.

For somebody like me, who has come to chafe at the restrictions built into his people’s traditions, living in Israel is relieving because it’s technically easier… and, by the same token, Rosh HaShanah, is, therefore, annoying because I don’t want to be offline for two days. I’d much rather be writing poetry!

Also(!): d’Verse poetry prompts

Oh… And, as if to rub salt on my wound, Rosh HaShanah happens to fall out on Monday evening and Tuesday evening this year, and those are precisely the evenings when the d’Verse Poets Pub offers the weekly poetry prompts that I’ve grown so attached to.

Le sigh

74 thoughts on “What’s worse than Shabbat? Double Shabbat!”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Ben. I appreciate your knowledge and insight of the Talmud and Jewish holy days. Happy Rosh Hashanah. Blessings!

    1. Thanks, Chad – I’m so glad ๐Ÿ˜€

      BTW – please feel free to call me ‘David’ – that is my first name.

      The word ‘ben’ just means ‘son of’ in Hebrew ๐Ÿ™‚ – I know my pen name is confusing… sorry about that!


  2. Your love for writing is inspiring. The feeling is much appreciated. It’s like a necessity. Like water for thirst. I wish you many beautiful verses in the future, David. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I stopped posting on Sunday a long time ago. I voluntarily did so because it took me away from my family and that was more important than blogging. I know the “addiction” of writing poetry since I do it all the time (though much of it never sees WP in a post). When on vacation I had all my posts scheduled but was woefully behind in reading the posts of others. It took me several days to catch up and in many cases I was too tired to comment! I seem to think that 49 hours will be easier to endure…

  4. Ah, David, the only thing more difficult that a two-day Yom Tov ( and here in Galuth every Yom Tov lasts two days, as you well know), is a Yom Tov that follows Shabbat.
    From a kitchen-based point of view, of course…

  5. With two days of Rosh Hashanah , I suggest you console yourself by eating two day’s worth of honey cake. Shana Tovah! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Well, I kvetch whenever I encounter the word “gerund” in a blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lโ€™shana tovah uโ€™metukah, David.

    You touched on something I’m butting up against with the conversion process, and you did it in your comment to Ron, about how being Jewish is more than a religion, it is the cultural ancestry and all of that tradition and being a part of something. While my maternal grandFATHER was Jewish (hence me needing to convert…), I basically do not have any of that background. A smidge, yes, but not much, thanks to a lot of weirdness in my immediate family.

    So here’s a tidbit from my Rosh Hashanah readings: The Leonard Cohen song “Who By Fire” is based on the traditional (?) prayer of Uยญnetanah Tokef. Reading both in English side by side that’s so apparent.

    Today I do my own version of trying to figure out what to do in the next 10 days… because all of the traditional food, etc. just… isn’t me.

    1. I totally understand. We quite often eat ๐Ÿฃ for Shabbat, because neither of us was raised religious, and that’s our favorite food ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  7. Happy Rosh HaShanah, David! There is definitely something to be said for unplugging, but I can also imagine it begins to chafe, when it gets too much.

    BTW for me writing poetry is a form of praying – listening – receiving – giving back. It goes deeper than many other forms of prayer for me because I listen much better, waiting for the inspiration and understanding to rise.

    BTW what does Jewish prayer “look like”? You’ve got me curious. I do remember reading a little about it when I read your posts about your Dad, and there it looked like a lot of it is done in community?

    1. what does Jewish prayer โ€œlook likeโ€? Youโ€™ve got me curious.

      Anna – I want to answer this question in some detail – so, with your permission, I’ll answer later in the week after Rosh HaShanah has ended – okay? ๐Ÿ™‚


    2. I found your question about prayer, Anna! Okay – here we go:

      First of all, for the purposes of context, what I’m going to describe below is “traditional” Jewish prayer, which means that some of the more liberal denominations do not hold to this. I say that objectively, not judgmentally.

      So. Traditionally, Jews pray three times daily: morning, afternoon, evening.

      Technically, according to the most traditional approach, men are obligated to pray all three prayer services, whereas women are not obligated to pray the evening service.

      Certain prayers (like all forms of the famed ‘Kaddish’) require a prayer quorum to be recited. So, while individuals should be praying on their own regardless of whether they have access to a prayer quorum, many feel obligated to pray with prayer quorums out of consideration for their communities (and also because it’s generally considered somehow “holier” to pray with a prayer quorum).

      Traditionally, a prayer quorum is comprised of 10 men. Women can be present (in the women’s section), but they are not counted towards the prayer quorum. Also, as I just mentioned in passing, men & women sit separately in communal prayer settings, with men leading the prayers.

      Now, on Shabbat, and additional service is added after the morning service, and on Yom Kippur, there is even a fifth service inserted after the afternoon service.

      The Torah is read during morning services on Mondays and Thursday (those are short readings of the weekly Torah portion); and the full weekly Torah portion is read on Saturday mornings. A partial Torah portion reading for the coming week is also read during the Saturday afternoon service.

      Those are the very basics, off the top of my head. There’s more detail, of course… like the ‘shema’ being recited during the morning and evening services, and the ‘amida’ (considered the central prayer to God) being recited in every service… but I could go on forever with the details.

      Feel free to ask about the particulars ๐Ÿ™‚

      All best,

      1. This is fascinating, David. Of course I had to go away and read up on the ‘shema’ and ‘amida’. What beautiful prayers. I recognize many Scriptures woven into them.

        It must be amazing to partake in the communal element of this prayer life, like you did after your father died. It reminds me a little of what it was like attending Anglican services, where there is also more of a communal element to prayer. I really felt like I belonged to a wider family, as we prayed aloud together.

        What I wondered is if there is any space given for you to receive an answer from God – to listen to Him, not just talk to Him? Or is that listening something you do throughout your week or something only done by leaders?

        1. Anna, what I outlined above is what Jews are commanded to do, according to tradition. There are additional forms of prayer and spiritual practices, primarily from the Hassidic tradition, that are not commanded of us, including meditation, speaking to God, and much more. The “listening” to God is up to every individual, and there are different modes available within the tradition.

          1. And – since you seem to like this sort of stuff – here’s an additional tidbit for you: those three mandated services each represent one of the Patriarchs. ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. Love that. I am fascinated by it all- as you can tell ๐Ÿคฃ.

            It would be so amazing to be Jewish and have that long history. I’ll have to settle for being “grafted in” – as we Christians believe we are, through our Jewish Jesus.

    1. ๐Ÿ’œ Ron ๐Ÿ’œ

      I have had that same thought! Although being “Jewish” is more than a religion – is also being part of a “people” … and blogging doesn’t change my genetics or my ancestry ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Ah well….I don’t know anything about Jewish tradition, but this sounds exasperating…I read somewhere that you’re not allowed to light fires on a Saturday according to the Talmud..am I right?And some students were discussing whether electricity was fire, and so whether they were allowed to use electrical appliances on a Saturday.. *sigh*
    But that’s tradition and you’ll have to obey it right?

        1. well, honestly, people can get used to anything – if you’re raised a certain way (like my daughter, for example) – all of this seems normal.

          1. Yeah haha, that is true. I mean, I’ve also been raised in a non-religious home, but well, this general sense of hatred for muslims, or stuff like that is in the air. I just can’t comprehend the reason for such ridiculous cultivation of hatred for people of different religions. It divides society like mad.

  9. ื”ืื ืืชื” ืžืชื—ืจื˜ ืขืœ ื”ื™ื•ืชืš ื™ื”ื•ื“ื™ ืฉื•ืžืจ ืžืฆื•ื•ืช – ืื• ืฉืื ื• ืจืง ืกื•ืคืจื™ื ืืช ื”ืฉืขื•ืช? sorry it’s back to front

    1. well, it’s both being Jewish generally and also being a Jew who observes the commandments (to the extent that I do that)… being discriminated against is no fun, and lots of these restrictions are annoying…

      I mean, look, I get a LOT out of it too – this particular post only explored one side of the equation. I love being Jewish – which I think you know from reading my blog..

      And the family time is invaluable, no matter what!

      1. Woah,
        It was not meant to be an unfriendly question, or comment.
        I certainly didn’t intend to hurt you.
        You are a Torah observant Jew. That’s wonderful. I canโ€™t claim to be as observant of my Faith as you are of yours.

Comments are closed.