What’s worse than Shabbat? Double Shabbat!

Warning: This is a kvetchy post


/kəˈveCH, 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 GermanYiddishNorth 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 🍯🍎

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. 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. 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.

    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 can’t claim to be as observant of my Faith as you are of yours.

  2. Seems to me you’ve the blessing of traditional restraints willingly entered into, which give your blessed daughter examples of your religious life.
    Were it so elsewhere.

  3. This was interesting to read, David, both to learn more about Jewish traditions, and about your frustrations not being able to blog! I have no religious restrictions, but sometimes I need to take a break. However, I always find it hard to take a break from writing. Don’t worry about dVerse: the Monday prompt stays open all week, and the Tuesday prompt until Thursday!

  4. I was about to say, But you’re in Israel and you don’t have 2nd day Yom Tov, and then you beat me to it.

    My mother told me once that she noticed that everyone she know from the kiruv side (eg. Chabad) talked about Shabbat like it was a blessing and a gift, but everyone she knew who was shomer shabbat and not in kiruv talked about it like they couldn’t wait for it to end.

  5. Monday’s Quadrille prompt will be open all week, so you can still respond.
    I baked two round challahs (so far), but we won’t be having our big family get together for Rosh Hashanah for the second year in a row.
    I bought myself and some other family members little bead bracelets for Hannukah that say “kvetch” on them. 😀 It seemed very appropriate for this past year!
    L’Shana Tova, David. Wishing you and yours a sweet–and healthy–year!

  6. I’m not necessarily unhappy about the two extra days offline from a personal standpoint, but work-wise Thursday and Friday are going to be rough this week. Doesn’t help that it’s Labor Day in the US tomorrow, either.

  7. Have you found that one could hypothetically sail through Shabbat with minimal interruption to one’s routine with automated smart home technology? What traditions do your coworkers find least/most relevant that they think could (or should not) be phased out of traditional practice? It seems as though food preparation might be the hardest to automate.

    1. oh absolutely – we set timers for everything – lights, heating plates for the food, etc…

      but we can’t prepare the food on Shabbat – only warm it up. cooking is a big no-no.

        1. The Jewish religious tradition draws a distinction between actions performed on Shabbat and actions performed before Shabbat. We set our timers before Shabbat.

          Also – the religious tradition draws a distinction between cooking food and warming food up. We can warm food up on electric hot plates (on timers), but we cannot cook it on Shabbat. The cooking must be complete before Shabbat begins.

  8. ei wei, I hear you. Only one thought from me: I don’t know how we sit here etymologically, who borrowed from whom… The German ‘Quatsch’ is not a person but what they say or do – roughly ‘nonsense’, leaning towards the colloquial end of the spectrum. – Some people stay married for the sake of the children, you say you stay observant for the sake of the child. I wonder about the benefit of either. Mazel tov regardless,

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