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The Holidays & Spiritual Growth


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Tishrei 16, 5769
I would like to ask how one may hold on to and develop further the joy and strength one often receives after the High Holiday period. The lead-up from Rosh Hashanah to the climax of the Yom Kippur fast can sometimes leave a person feeling ’lonely’ or ’restless’ afterwards in the pursuit of continuing to grow spiritually. In other words, how can one best use the feeling of rejuvenation, purification and energy recevied from the High Holidays? As a woman, there are less physical mitzvot to tend to immediately after Succot. It seems that all the physical mitzvot (Succah, arba’at haminim etc.) that men tend to directly after Yom Kippur gives them a tangible way to give shape/form to the re-energized feeling of after the High Holidays. I feel like it helps them not only to utilize that energy but to take it even higher.
You have cetainly asked a difficult question. I would like to point out, that though women are not obligated in the mitzvot of sukkot, they are also not discouraged from their performance. If you have the opportunity, participate in the sukkah and sukkot celebrations. More to the point, it is very difficult for all people to maintain the spiritual high of the Yomim Tovim. It is especially difficult without a communal context, such as a yeshiva or midrasha, or a close knit community. If you have any like minded friends, learning together, making Shabbat, singing, discussing, all help. For some people, learning the commentaries on siddur raises awareness in dovening and that affects the nature of the day. Your job (or studies), social situation, hobbies, all come into ply in the question of maintaining attitudes. Is one's life settled or in flux, static or dynamic. (BTW, one can be settled and dynamic, static and in flux). Find books or a shiur that excite you. There are tons of wonderful and inspiring Torah materiel on the net (plua a lot that is less interesting). Friends, again I come back to the idea that it is hard to do anything alone. "Knei lcha chaver" says Pirkei Avot. And again, like inertia and the conservation of energy, the low after the high is almost a physical law. I wish us all much help from Hashem in trying to maintain the YomTov attitudes and feelings.
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