You know how I can tell the high holiday season is upon us?
Besides for the fact that I just clopped my chest a million times asking forgiveness for sins that I don’t even know the meaning to. What the heck is sinning scornfully anyway? No its not really that, clopping your chest is a daily thing, its more to do with the fact that the second I got into slichos or slichot for you modern orthodox readers, I started counting the pages till the end. That’s right, I know you all do it, I even noticed the chazzan throw a little peek to see how far he had to go. In fact half of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippor davening is spent counting pages and groaning about how long the thing is. My advice is to use only a Hebrew siddur because then its half as long, or you can read the old English and pretend you are a pastor giving a fire and brimstone speech during the times of the Great Awakening or something. To tell the truth, I was sitting and reading the English tonight of my slichos and noticed that there were way too many these, thous and thy’s, and what the heck does “art” mean anyway? Not art as in Monet, but art as in “Thou art harken to our commandments and cleave to me.” Then of course my mind starts wandering from the Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell- esque speeches at stadium churches to cleavage, hmm…is that what cleave to me means? Hmm…I wonder if reading in English is really better then Hebrew because I just pounded my chest for all the cleavage I thought about during cleaving to arts and thou’s.
Back to the point of this post, basically the high holiday season- I know its sounds like an ad at JC Penny, come and get an extra 30% off during the high holidays, but seriously during this time I do lots of searching, yes I do soul searching, but mostly for the right page. Take slichos for instance, I can never figure out where we are, I am getting down with hastening to the Lord and trying to get my sins out and all the sudden smack in the middle of one of those long ass paragraphs that have no indentations, the chazzan busts out some “Vyavor el punuv” and suddenly I am scrambling through pages and pages text to get to the important stuff. Important in my mind because I like the tune and I can actually know we are making progress. That’s one of my main issues with things like slichos or kinos, not only do you never figure out exactly where you are unless they throw down some reader then congregation lines, but you never know if they are making progress because you never recognize any of the obscure passages unless you are 80 years old and can say this stuff by heart.
So I’m usually doing my own thing during slichos, tonight that involved imagining a shul saying the Birnbaum slichos in English and having people think they were in a really heavy church, and thinking of this post. I was kind of pissed that the yetzer harah had the gall to distract me from counting the pages till the end. It’s the same thing during megilas esther, lots of counting and wondering where you are and all the sudden they are in that whole ten sons in one breath gig and you know its almost done.
Speaking of being lost in davening, what about hoshanos, I can do a thesis on the craziness of hoshanos, the whole sukkos is pure insanity, and my favorite holiday- unless I get stuck with one of those ridiculously large esrogim that no one on earth can hold with a lulav in the same hand- hey does anyone know why Lubavitchers like such large esrogim? I’m serious, I am not trying to input some sexual innuendo to the conversation. They also like them without pitoms, but we know why that is, because they saw what happened to their hats (all crushed) so you know the pitom aint gonna last long.
So anyway before my ADHD goes any further with these tangents let me tell you why hoshanos is so crazy. Because after the first day of hoshanos, you know the “even shesiya” I have no idea what’s flying after that, try going to a shul with a bunch of know it alls. Halachic arguments in the middle hoshanos when you have no idea where they are anyway are the worst, then of course there is some guy poking you with his lulav to keep moving and your trying to get the last word of the last hoshana so you can join in the chorus, because I love saying “Hoshana lemancha boreinu” really loud in chassidish accent- because it just sounds so holy.
I really should save this for another post, but hoshanos is like wedding dancing. Your walking around sandwiched between two sweaty men and instead of having their hands in your back, your back is posseling their lulav tips as they poke you to keep moving. Suddenly, just like at a wedding, the line ends and you are thrust out of the bima area into plain old pews. Try and get back in grasping your palm and lemon and see what happens, you have to go star wars on them, if only lulavs had the power of light sticks, oh man, imagine one of those lulav holder things that lit up the entire lulav- kind of like a light show. Big pimping lulav, you wouldn’t even need one of those long green cases that are the pimpest of all lulav holders.
May you all be zoche in the upcoming year to be able to find your place and keep it easier.