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September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
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Not Too Fast

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This month, we’re going to dive right into the questions, because it seems like everyone who sent one in is in a rush.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Why, when I’m walking with my kids, do they run to the corner and wait for me to catch up instead of just walking with me in the first place?

T.P.

Dear T.,

It’s the high-speed Internet generation.  They’re in a rush to get places so they can do nothing when they get there.  Why, when I was a kid, we had dial-up, and when you wanted to go to a website, you had to be patient, and you had to be absolutely sure that was the website you wanted to go to, because it would take a half hour to load.  And no one was allowed to use the phone while you were online.

Sometimes it was more efficient just to go to the library.

Yes, they run to the corner and wait for you.  But if you tell them to slow down and walk with you, they will spend the entire time dragging behind and complaining that their feet hurt.

This happens in the house too.  It’s less noticeable, but whenever kids go from one room to another, they either run or they have to be dragged.

“Go to bed.”

“No.”

“Okay.  One… two… ”

And they run.

The other thing is that kids need an immediate destination, and your eventual destination isn’t good enough.  That’s why, on long car trips, they always ask, “Are we there yet?”

How could we be there?  Do you see the place? 

They don’t actually care what destination you’re at, as long as you’re at some kind of destination.  So here’s an idea.  Just tell them, “We’re driving to the next corner.”

“Are we there yet?”

“Yes.  Now we’re driving to the next corner.”

If you do that, you’d have a much more pleasant, if repetitive, driving experience.

But the kids’ main reason is that in their experience, if they’re walking with you and you run into someone you know, there’s going to be a lot of standing still and putting all their weight into trying to pull you along as you talk about really boring grown-up things, such as how everyone’s doing.  But your kids also noticed that if you’re chasing them, you don’t stop for anything.  So this is the most effective way of pulling you along.  If they run, you will follow.

But why do they have to run all the way to the corner, right?

It’s your fault really.  What do you say if they start running ahead?  You say, “Stop at the corner!”  That’s what you say.  The kids don’t know you mean, “Stop at the corner or sometime before then.”

 

Dear Mordechai,

Why is it called a “fast” if it goes so slow?

M.D.  

Dear M.,

I don’t know.  Why is it called “Yom HaKippurim” if you don’t know whether you’ll have a kapara?  Because it’s like Purim, but with less dancing?

No, we name it that because we’re hoping it will seem fast.

Think about it: Why do we call it “rush hour” if everyone drives so slowly?  Or “Rush Hashanah”?

Yes, Yom Kippur might feel slow, if you spend the whole day rushing through davening so you can wait for the chazzan to catch up to you after every single paragraph.  It’s like walking with your kids.  Now you know how they feel.  The chazzan’s like, “Wait at the end of the paragraph!  I’m coming!  I just need to talk to somebody I know!”

But it only goes slow if we think about it.  You know how you wake up on the morning of a fast, and even though you don’t normally eat breakfast on a regular day – and definitely not before you get out of bed – you’re already starving?  On Yom Kippur, I feel that way on the way to Kol Nidrei.

“Did I eat enough?  I think I still have room.”

That’s not going to make the day fast.

And you know how you sit there counting pages, and then figuring out that half the pages are English, and that half of the ones that aren’t are commentaries, and then realizing that you read the commentaries and the English anyway?  And then, in middle of all that thinking, you realize that everyone’s turned a page, so you do that whole cheshbon again, instead of just subtracting one?  That doesn’t make it fast.

Yom Kippur is exactly as long as the davening. If you deal with what the day is supposed to be about, it’s exactly the right length. It’s no coincidence that all the tefillos, stacked end to end, take about a day.  And then they stopped adding stuff.  They were like, “Okay, it’s Yom Kippur, not Y’mei Kippur.”

So being in shul all day on Yom Kippur is at least a plan.  For years, I thought it was hard to be in shul all day when you’re fasting.  You stand up, you sit down, you stand up, you sit down, you bend WAY over, you stand up, your paper towels blow away, etc.  So I started davening Vasikin, because it meant, “Hey, longer break!”  Then I had kids.  Talk about a slow day.  Plus there’s still the standing and sitting and standing and sitting and bending way over and dealing with paper towels.

 

Dear Mordechai,

How do I carry my arbah minim and my tallis and still make it to shul with everything intact?

M.S.  

Dear M.,

It’s simple.  Just hold your lulav in one hand and your esrog in another and grab your machzor and tallis and also hold two kids’ hands and push a stroller.

And don’t forget your 10,000-page Artscroll Machzor that somehow gets heavier every year.  Are they sneaking into your house and adding pages?  Did you maybe accidentally order free updates?

You can try not holding your kids.  Like, you can have them run to the corner.  But then what happens when you have to cross the street?

“Okay, everyone.  Hold my pockets.”

And G-d help you if it’s windy and you have to hold your hat on as well.

My advice is: Take a stroller.  Even if you don’t have a baby.  The kids hold the stroller, and you can put everything in the stroller.  Except the lulav.  You still have to awkwardly hold that while pushing the stroller with one hand.  Sure, there are people who lay it across the top, but that’s not easy if kids have to walk on either side of you at lulav height.

And if you think it’ll be easier to transport everything to shul on Chol Hamoed just because you have a car, it’s not.  There’s no good way to get a lulav into a car.  You basically turn your entire back seat into a lulav holder, you can only take one passenger, in the front, and you have to try not to make any left turns, so as not to stub your lulav.  Or right turns, if the other guy’s lulav is laying the other way.  Maybe you should just take your minivan and fold down the seats.

And getting to shul isn’t your whole issue.  It’s not easy to hold all these things for Hoshanos either, except that for Hoshanos, you don’t have to hold your kids’ hands, because you’re not crossing any streets.  Unless you have a really popular shul.  Also, you get to wear your tallis, and your only concern is making sure it doesn’t suddenly slip off your shoulders so that you have to grab it with your lulav hand.  I don’t want to be the guy behind you.  Maybe I’ll just quickly circle the bimah ahead of everyone else, and then stand there and wait.

 

Have a question for “You’re Asking Me?” Just e-mail it.  I don’t have any free hands.

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