An old Jew speaks to a friend on the occasion of his 47th wedding anniversary: “My 47 years with my wife ... it feels like only two days!” “Two days?” his friend says, “what’s the secret for such a good life?” The old Jew admits — “Actually the two days I’m thinking about are Yom Kippur and Tisha B’av!”
This joke refers to the unpleasant feelings we associate with Tisha B’av (a day of sadness for the Jewish people throughout history) and
suffering we think about on Yom Kippur.
Unfortunately, many people think of the High Holidays as unpleasantdays. After all, Yom Kippur is a difficult fast day, and even Rosh
Hashanah can be hard to handle, with the long days of what many see as “boring” synagogue services.
The fact is however, that the High Holidays are the most exciting daysof the year!
While most people would link the High Holidays to attending synagogue, and for some it’s the only days of the year they will attend synagogue. The Torah itself makes absolutely no mention of attending
a synagogue, or the like! (However, the commandment of listening tothe shofar is stated explicitly!)
Why then, you may ask, is it the custom of millions of Jews worldwide to congregate in synagogues and temples during the High Holidays?
The truth is, that the underlying essence of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is to forge a stronger connection to G-d. And, the best
way to do so is to experience it TOGETHER — with others who are seeking the same thing. THIS IS WHY WE ATTEND SYNAGOGUE ON THE HIGH HOLIDAYS. To be inspired!
At Chabad of Hewlett (and we welcome EVERYONE to join us), we put a great emphasis on the meaning of the prayers, and how it relates to us. Instead of it possibly appearing as a dull and melancholic experience, the High Holidays will be perceived as an opportune and auspicious time. A time when the entire community — AS ONE — gets together for an uplifting and inspiring beginning of a new year.
So while it is great to BE in a synagogue during the High Holidays, the ultimate goal is to BE INSPIRED by the experience, and for that
feeling to stay with us for many days after.
As we pray for health, prosperity and nachas (Yiddish for being happy and proud of someone’s accomplishments) in the coming year of 5774, I am positive that with the power of unity, we can reach the heavenly throne, and have him fulfill all our wishes, and one day we will be able to say that our 47 or so years feels like THREE days — the wonderful days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur :) Shana Tova!