This time of year is very nerve-wracking.
Aside from the whole three-day six-meal situation — unless you also feed your company breakfast, and then it is nine meals — the underlying theme of the upcoming holidays is pretty intense. And I am also not referring to the mark-up on round challahs, as opposed to braided challahs.
What does our future hold? Have we lived up to expectations this year? Did we take into account any of the resolutions we gave ourselves last year? Were we better people? Who will live? Who will die? Who can handle that pressure? As the wife of a gabbai, the man who thinks he is in charge this time of year, the months leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are particularly stressful. I wish I was kidding. Can you say Torahs, pesichas, and chazzanim, oh my?
Do you know what it takes to give every man in shul an honor?
Sorry ladies, I am an Orthodox gal, and this is an Orthodox column. Do I agree with you that women should have as much of a place in shul as a man? No. Why? We give birth to human beings. Isn’t that responsibility enough? Don’t hate me. I mean, you can hate me and some of you probably do, but please pick a different reason — and there are so so many. I happen to be pretty happy with my role in Judaism. I would never be able to handle the minyan thing. Reading the Torah in front of a room full of people makes me dive headfirst into a panic attack, and daf yomi really does nothing for me. Sorry. (Though, if we are getting political, I am all for the yoetzet thing. I think those women are amazing and help other women who are intimidated about asking rabbis questions. But that is another topic altogether.)
So once the summer comes, when I, for a split second, think that husband #1 is going to surprise me with a vacation, he casually mentions that “the boys” are coming over. I now know that this is code for some kind of meeting in my house. A meeting of the minds. A meeting of the men who think they run the world. They always think it ends well, but husband #1 usually ends up with a few more people who don’t speak to him. And it isn’t even my fault. (And it usually isn’t his fault but as BMG — Big Mean Gabbai — it all ends up being his fault.)
The whole concept of the High Holy Days is scary. We apologize for all the things we do wrong and then we end up doing them all over again. It’s called human nature. We try and try. Sometimes we are successful in reinventing ourselves, and sometimes, not so much. But this is where the scary part comes in.
Part of this holiday season is wondering if this is our last year on earth. I hate that concept. It scared the bejabbers out of me. Because, and this column is now taking a turn, where do we go when we die? There are some people who maintain that whole ashes-to-ashes thing. But some of us are taught, when we are young, that when Moshiach comes, we come back to life. This is not an easy concept for a young kid to absorb. I learned this concept right around the time that my grandfather died. Why do they teach kids these things??? Do you know the nightmares that stem from stories like that? Trust me.
They stay with you always. Always.
Well, in honor of the High Holy Days, I wanted to impart my feeling on the world to come. Here is how it is going to go, folks. You get up there and you are divided by how long you wait between meat and milk. Three hours? To the right, by the free vending machines. Five and a half hours? Walk down the middle by the lilacs. And six hours? Just be patient, because you are getting dinner last.
That is the first division. After that, your imagination can just go wild. People who like math in one part, people who like to read in another part. Who knows? No one comes back to tell us. Unfortunately.
OK, I am going to take a deep breath now and realize, once again, that the only thing I can control (besides my thoughts, which clearly are out of control) is how I treat others. That is something we can all use a little encouragement with.
May this is year be a good one. And now, back to the kitchen….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck has made a lot of meatballs. Of course, one of her sons doesn’t eat meatballs, so she had better make something else.