Running the Hamster Wheel of the Good Life

Today has been a long day. I’ve opened and closed CubeSpace before (which I’m doing today). I’ve opened at CubeSpace and then gone done to Salem (which I did today). I’ve been done to Salem and I’ve closed at CubeSpace before (which I’m doing today). But never before have I opened CubeSpace, gone to Salem, returned from Salem, and been back at CubeSpace for a few more hours before closing. Frankly, I’m thinking this isn’t my favorite way to spend a day.

All of the parts individually have been good, rewarding etc. It’s just that when I went to look at the paper in the breakroom, and found a section, I realized I’d already read it, and it must have been yesterday’s paper. Then I looked more closely, and realized it had today’s date on it. That was the point at which I realized that this morning felt like much too long ago.

Nonetheless, in another hour I get to go home and sleep the sleep of the righteous, or whatever. At least sleep hard. I’m sort of fighting off a bit of a cold, I believe.  Thus, perhaps I have less energy than I sometimes do.

My point, however, and I do have one (which is rare enough in and of itself), is that despite how I feel now physically, I feel good about what I’m doing occupationally. I have two work situations which I find rewarding, in which I do a relatively good job, and in which I am recognized for what I do (admittedly, at CubeSpace, the staff often recognize me for what I don’t do, like not getting in their way…but they are always very positive about it).

At CubeSpace, a part of my self-designated role is court jester. I’m the one who is easily and often made fun of (most often by myself, in fact). Congregationally, I’m the rabbi, if a somewhat casual version of the rabbinate, or at least a rabbi who doesn’t take myself particularly seriously (note: it’s really hard to take yourself seriously if you spend much time teaching kids; between kindergarteners who really aren’t sure what a rabbi is, and adolescents who will throw me a tissue box which may hit me in the nose instead of being caught, it’s just hard to take oneself seriously). In both places, however, I’m one of the people who sets the tone of the organization, so I guess it’s a good thing that I’m fond of both organizations, like both cultures.

So the take away message I’ve been dancing around: even when I’m tired, sick and spent 2.5 hours driving through dense fog today, I love my work.


Morning Drive

Driving down to Salem for religious school this morning, there was frost on the ground. Driving down I-5, through the valley, the flat fields are covered in the white of frost, like a lace cover. The sky is a pinkish grey, the fields a white-ish brown. Wisps of fog touch the top of the evergreens, clinging to them, stretching across the road. A moment of quiet and beauty as I move down the road at 65 mile per hour. I turn off the audio book I was listening to and watch the world move past me.

Just wanted to share a moment from the day.

Jewish Spirituality

Eating the Chanukah Candles

As I was on my way into CubeSpace this morning, I stopped and gathered up some Chanukah supplies: a Chanukah Menorah and a box of candles. My goal was to enable us to light the Chanukah candles this evening at CubeSpace. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the box of Chanukah candles I first grabbed informed me that they were “kosher.”

Now, kosher means “ritually appropriate.” But, in all honesty, there just aren’t that many ways to disqualify Chanukah candles. They don’t need to be made with any special intentionality. It’s not like they can only be made with certain substances. They’re  candles.  Which brings me to my second supposition:The manufacturer of these candles thinks we’re likely to be eating them.

At first glance, this seems truly absurd, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Chanukah celebrates a miracle of oil burning in the menorah at the temple for eight days when it should have been exhausted in one. Therefore there are two main observances: lighting candles (in commemoration of the menorah that burned longer than it should have) and eating oily food (in commemoration of the oil in the menorah). Now, normally the oily foods are deep fried potato pancakes (latkes) or jelly doughnuts (suvganiyot). But, for those who really want to commemorate it  right, you could combine the oil and the light, and just eat the candles themselves. I think this must be what the package of candles I picked up this morning was suggesting. Candles, after all, are fundamentally, solidified oil. So you get the candle and the oil, all in one.

For this year, I will pass on this tradition. But in the words of Franz Rosenzwieg, I choose to say that  I do “not yet” observe this mitzvah.