I have always hated fasting. Perhaps it’s the outside determinant – someone else telling me, you shall fast on this day, for this many hours, whether you like it or not. Or maybe it’s just that it’s uncomfortable and I don’t like discomfort. (Who does?)
Tomorrow night begins Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, when most Jews refrain from eating or drinking anything for 25 hours. Every year I reckon with this concept – though thankfully I have no physical problem with fasting. I don’t get sick, I don’t even feel hungry for most of the time, and I certainly don’t end up in bed with a migraine.
I get angry.
Judaism has always seemed to me to be a religion of triumph and joy – not asceticism and depression. But as I became more knowledgeable in the religion, and more observant, I realized being an observant Jew wasn’t all fun and games.
With anything, there is the good and the bad, and we must weather highs and lows. It’s just the way life untangles itself over time.
Like with the economy right now. Markets plunge, 401Ks disappear into air, investments plummet.
I’m no investor so don’t ask my advice on what to do with your money. I just have a hunch that the numbers will eventually be up, given enough time.
I walk through my days driven by a certain measure of common sense (and an earful of advice from people I trust and admire). And what all that tells me is that, like Judaism, economic downturns are cyclical. The numbers will rise again, like the morning sun, just as certainly as the fast will end.
The Jewish calendar has re-established itself every year for millennia. Last week, we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, introducing a new Jewish year. Tomorrow night, we ask forgiveness from friends, family and God. Next week, we sit in huts under the stars for an eight-day party of warm food, good wine and late nights. (Sukkot)
Then we return to the diurnal. School, work, filling the car with gas, purchasing groceries.
Eventually, there will be another holiday.
And another fast day.
And another meal.