web analytics
December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Jewish Plan to Make the Best of the Rest of your Summer

Why would our tradition fill our fun-filled summers with such restricting limitations?
F100804AS08

Photo Credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90

If nothing stood in your way, how would you spend the rest of your summer? Would you embark on a dream vacation? Would you learn a new trade? Would you escape to a faraway island?

For Jews worldwide, the summer season is spent in unique and perhaps challenging ways. A while ago a friend complained to me that he finds the “Jewish summer” very frustrating.

“Look at our summer,” he said half-jokingly. “Even before the actual arrival of summer, for seven weeks beginning on the second day of Passover we count the days leading to the festival of Shavuot; then for three weeks we mourn the destruction of the Jerusalem Temples; and for the remaining four weeks we repent in preparation for the High Holidays.”

“You’re right,” I told him. Quoting Andre Naher, a 20th century French-Jewish philosopher, I added: “It’s a difficult pleasure to be a Jew.”

Cynicism aside, we ought to echo his question: Why would our tradition fill our fun-filled summers with such restricting limitations?

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald has a moving description of the summer season: “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees…I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

Indeed, this season teems with a new sense of life and brims openness and freedom.

But these are not always good things. Reports show that crime goes up when temperatures do, and cases of marital infidelity also soar during this time of the year. This may be due to the extra time people have on their hands throughout this season, along with the inviting openness of the weather that drives people outside of their homes.

These reports reflect an obvious truth: freedom without purpose ceases to exist. And unless we have a purposeful plan in play, we will struggle to find direction and meaning in the open freedom of summer. And therein lies the secret of the “Jewish Summer Plan” that summons us to embark on a three-step journey of counting, mourning, and atoning.

Step One: Valuing Time. We must begin with valuing time. Every moment is precious. Every tick of the clock is filled with opportunities. There is so much life in the present that we ought to make the most of it before it vanishes.

The Jewish pre-summer begins with our counting each day for seven continuous weeks. “Time is the best teacher,” a wise man once said, “but unfortunately it kills all of its students.” The only way to avoid being “killed by time,” especially during this season, is to count and put into use the full value of its every day.

Step Two: Connecting the Past To The Present. For three weeks we mourn the tragedies of years gone by, and connect to our spiritual roots. These are the weeks when many tragedies befell the Jewish people including the besiegement and destruction of the Jerusalem Temples in the years 586 BCE and 70 CE and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

This connection to the past during the “Jewish summer” ensures that we are not left wandering aimlessly in search of a meaningful direction toward the future. It bolsters our identity and guides us onward with clarity and focus.

Step Three: A Return to the Self. We are invited to repent – a better word is “return” –during the final four weeks of the Jewish summer. Jewish law calls on us to awake from our spiritual slumber, inspect our actions, and return.

This lesson holds particularly true In our age of distractions. The Jewish summer encourages us to rid ourselves of the fantasy that life’s blessings, such as peace and happiness, can be found outside. We ought to refocus on who we truly are, and what our personal mission statements ought to be. The unleashed potential of the individual self, with all of its God-given talents and skills waiting to be realized, is irreplaceable.

Looking at Life from the Inside. Sherry Turkle, professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, recently shared an interesting observation:

“Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, children, everyone is on their own devices. So I say, look up, look at one another…”

About the Author: Rabbi Pinchas Allouche is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, AZ. He is a popular educator, lecturer and author of many essays and writings on the Judaism and social analysis.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Jewish Plan to Make the Best of the Rest of your Summer”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ayala Shapira, 11, is fighting for her life after suffering burn wounds when an Arab terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail at the car in which she was riding.
‘Slight Improvement’ in Life-threatening Condition of Firebomb Victim
Latest Indepth Stories
Bill Cosby

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

Knesset Logo

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

Cohen-122614

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’

More Articles from Rabbi Pinchas Allouche
twitter faceless

On Facebook, young and old alike fool themselves into believing they are better than the person they see in the mirror.

F100804AS08

Why would our tradition fill our fun-filled summers with such restricting limitations?

As the dust settles and the fog lifts from this tumultuous year of political campaigning, we are left to wonder how our country will evolve. Will the economy bounce back? Will our schools make progress? And how about U.S. relations with Israel? Will they grow weaker or stronger? Will the administration support an Israeli strike on Iran?

It was not a necessary part of our busy itinerary. It was not even a noble errand. But the craving for a tasty lunch led our group to experience a moment never to be forgotten.

Our blinding attraction to drama has captivated so many of us. We love to live it, watch it, or even worse, create it.

“It’s not easy being labeled religious these days,” a friend confessed to me a few weeks ago.

My friend may be right – so-called religious people have committed some of humanity’s most horrific crimes, casting a dark shadow on religion – but what is religion? What is the definition of a “religious person”? What was he referring to? Can religion and evil really co-exist?

Winds of uncertainty are blowing across the globe. The future remains unsure. Will the sun shine again? Will stability reemerge after the storm dies down?

Let’s face it: it’s unusual and even somewhat bizarre nowadays to encounter a family with more than two children. It is almost as if a war is launched against the unborn after a “red line” of two or three children has been reached.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-jewish-plan-to-make-the-best-of-the-rest-of-your-summer/2013/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: