DAY 450: Finding Meaning (and Vulnerability) in Turning On My Car’s Ignition

September 23, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 450: Finding Meaning (and Vulnerability) in Turning On My Car’s Ignition

Dear Hevreh,

I could be mistaken, but I don’t think many of us find the act of starting our cars a meaningful moment in our day. For those who drive regularly, it is a mundane occurrence that we don’t think about (until that inopportune moment when our cars won’t start). Yet there I was, sitting in my car on Friday morning, about to turn on the ignition and feeling lots of butterflies in my stomach as if I was walking into a room full of teenagers. All of a sudden, a simple act that I have done countless times in my life became a spiritual test, full of meaning.

Why was this ignition start different than all other ignition starts? Because this day was the second day of the holiday of Sukkot, a day in which religious Jews in the diaspora typically do not perform any m’lakhah (“creative activity”), and I was about to perform one of those forbidden acts of m’lakhah that I have shied away from my whole life. Even though I already explained both to myself and to our congregation why I felt I could perform m’lakhah on this second day of the holiday, it didn’t make it any easier for me to turn on the ignition, or to check my email, or to listen to my voicemail, or to write down directions and phone numbers — all acts that I consider to be forms of m’lakhah and all acts that I performed this past Friday.

It was a strange experience, as if it’s one of those moments when you know you’re not doing something wrong but you feel like you’re doing it anyway. Yet, through it all, it was the mission of that day’s activity that helped remind me that all of the m’lakhah I was performing specifically for that mission, was worth it. And what was that mission? It was making the mitzvah ofLulav and Etrog come alive for members of our community by bringing it into their homes (click here for pictures from the day!). It was an incredible opportunity to share with our members who volunteered to help perform the mitzvah and who invited us into their homes so they could experience it. By the end of the day I realized that this was the most meaningful second day holiday experience I’ve ever had, an experience that was only possible by making myself vulnerable to the power of turning on the ignition of my car.

Hag sameah,

Rabbi Ari Saks

P.S. Join us for another wonderful opportunity to bring meaning to the second day of the holidayas we dance with the Torahs at the Rabbi’s Tisch on Thursday night at 6:30 pm! Families of all ages are welcome.


Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Sukkot
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