Last weekend we finished the fall holidays, finished reading Deuteronomy and started over again with Breishit, the creation of the world. From a marketing standpoint, Judaism could benefit from having fewer holidays at this time of year. I did see a cute little parable that sort of speaks to the creation and holidays, at least enough that I can unabashedly share the parable.
On the 1st day of the creation, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of 20 years.” The dog said, “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only 10 years and I’ll give you back the other 10?” So God agreed.
On the 2nd day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a 20-year life span.” The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for 20 years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back 10 like the dog did?” And God agreed.
On the 3rd day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of 60 years.” The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for 60 years, all that sun and milk. How about 20 and I’ll give back the other 40?” And God agreed again.
On the 4th day, God created humans and said, “Eat, sleep, play and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you 20 years.” But the human said, “Only 20 years? Could you possibly give me my 20, the 40 the cow gave back, the 10 the monkey gave back, and the 10 the dog gave back; that makes 80, okay?” “Okay,” said God. “You asked for it.”
So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. Then we graduate college and face the real world. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the following ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the porch/deck and bark at the neighborhood kids or the rabbits/deer eating up our garden.
Life has now been explained to you. If you need further clarification, I am entertaining the grandchildren. But of course this account of creation doesn’t conform to the Torah’s story and in this scenario, life seems so scripted. And for many, life is like that—going through the same expected tired routine day after day, week after week. The routine will change as we enter new phases of life, but then it becomes a new soon-to-be old and tired routine all over again. That’s why God, in His/Her genius, has given us so many holidays. It forces us to break our routines and focus on what’s really important.
The holidays were terrific this year in all the ways that mattered. We are so lucky to have a community that values the break in routine and joins together to pray and sing and schmoose. We are about to enter the Hebrew month called Mar Cheshvan. Mar means bitter, the only month so designated, and that is because there are no holidays in it. But we can make do with Shabbat, the greatest invention ever for stopping the treadmill and focusing on the important things. Until this Shabbat, have a good if soggy Wednesday. Bill Rudolph
P.S. Where to begin? Scolnic Adult Institute classes start tonight, don’t wait until you “have time” to study. Second ever Minyan Olamim Shabbat morning. Israel Media Series “Dancing in Jaffa” Saturday night. Mitzvah Day and Healing Service Sunday. The annual Gala Nov 8th.