Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

The Time of Our Burnout, er, Joy

The fast-upcoming holiday of Sukkos (Sukkot, whatever your preference) is also known as “zman simchaseinu,” or, in English, “the Time of our Joy.”  We’re happy for a lot of reasons, like the assumption (hope, prayer, wish) that we received a favorable judgment on Rosh Hashana, and the wiping away of our sins on Yom Kippur, and the representation of a sukkah as Divine protection, just to name a few.

Personally, I’m not big into the outdoors, with its bugs and bees (which I guess could be included in the category of bugs, but I’m giving them a special mention of their own).  I don’t really enjoy shlepping food from the house to the sukkah and eating in all that, well, nature.

It would seem that there’s not much zman simchaseinu in this holiday for me.

It’s possible that part of my mental (and, now, written) groaning about the holiday has to do with how, at this point, we (we being the Jews) have been in holiday mode for two weeks already.  It’s been two busy weeks of the same short cycle of deciding what to cook, purchasing the necessary ingredients, making the food, serving the food, falling behind on the laundry, catching up on the laundry, finding ways to entertain the children, watching the house become covered in toys, picking up the toys and putting them away.

You get the idea.  It’s like the normal weekly routine, but amplified.  So as I face another full week of celebration and the preparations that come with it, I kind of just want to organize the attic or something else instead.  I feel mostly done with the cooking and cleaning that comes with a holiday.  That’s why I’m sitting here typing instead of chopping onions.

And why I agreed to take a trip to Dutch Wonderland on Sunday instead of doing any prep whatsoever.

It's a kingdom for kids!
It’s a kingdom for kids!

So with these semi-disgruntled feelings, there are two choices I see before me:

1.  I could continue to grouse and not feel the joy inherent in the holiday, focusing on how much work there is to be done and letting the negative feeling dominate.


2.  I could acknowledge that I’m feeling some burnout, but also choose to focus on things that I *do* enjoy about this time of year:  Its breathlessness in the sheer amount of celebration and time spent together with family, friends and neighbors.  The joy and wonder on my kids’ faces the first time they see the sukkah for the year.  Their excitement when they show me the projects and decorations they made in school for the holiday.  How much enjoyment they get from sitting in the sukkah.  The feeling of being together and celebrating with Jews all over the world, throughout generations.

I think it’s fairly apparent which choice will lead to a better outcome.  And this is, I think, an excellent example of how in life, we are often faced with situations which we may not look forward to, events which may not resonate with us.  We have a choice to succumb to our initial response, to decide it’s too hard, to say “it’s just not for me.”

But when we can rise above those opening grumblings and disinterested feelings, we position ourselves not only for spiritual and personal growth, but could even find that we enjoy the very situation we were initially dreading.  Imagine that.

Wishing everyone a joyous Sukkos, a Gut Yom Tov, and may we always be able to find the joy in our lives.


And now I’m off to chop some onions…


12 thoughts on “The Time of Our Burnout, er, Joy

  1. Excellent post. Growing up in the States, I found Succos really difficult because of the bugs. Sitting in the sukkah for an extended meal and wondering whether the spiders were about to jump off the walls and onto my head was just stressful. Fortunately, it’s far less buggy in Israel.

    But about the burnout, yes. I feel like I’m still tired from RH, and catching up on laundry? I think it’s just impossible.

    Having said that, I’m definitely looking forward to the slower pace that yom tov will hopefully bring once it actually starts. Chag sameach. :)

    1. Yes! Constant vigilance is needed in the evening meals to make sure no buggies fall into the soup!

      Sukkos in Israel is so different. I still remember hearing all those zemiros filling the air in Har Nof! Ah!

      And does anyone really ever catch up on the laundry? Ever? That reminds me that I need to switch out the laundry! Ha! B”H. :) Chag Sameach!

  2. Thanks for the reminder to do the right thing. I am so where you are right now…and that’s why last night, instead of cooking, I had the overwhelming urge to organize all my digital pictures from the past year. I did it. My photo album will be awesome. My yom tov will be…well…done when it gets done :)

  3. Rivky, I always appreciate your honestly and openness to discuss how many of us are *really* feeling…it’s refreshing to be uplifted by your realizations that are so down-to-earth, and so not preachy! This truly portrays frum life — you aren’t pretending that it’s all perfect and easy. Thank you and thank you for these wonderful reminders!

  4. Very honest! I find it KEY to get some invites out for some of the meals!!! I will take ANY invite we get! And of course I invite people, too. Karma, or whatever we would call it in Hebrew.

    1. Oh my gosh, yes about the invites! Thankfully, we were invited out for three meals over the first days, and we went to family in Cleveland for the second days, so that totally took the edge off. I wish we lived closer so we could have you over! Wouldn’t that be so nice?

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