Warning: This is a kvetchy post
INFORMAL • NORTH AMERICAN
noun: kvetch; plural 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 ➜ Yiddish ➜ North American English (informal)
Jewish New Year
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.