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Live a Little

Rabbi Streiffer

Live a Little

Why so serious all the time??

  • On the High Holy Days, we focus our time and energy on repentance, sin, and setting things right.
  •  On Pesach, it’s freedom and slavery - and their very real implications in our history and in our world today.
  •  On Shavuot, we are thankful for Torah, and for the teaching, instruction, and morality that it represents.
  • And on Shabbat we dig into the serious business of rest and mindfulness.

Judaism is serious business: making meaning, building a spiritual life, and repairing the world, which are no small tasks. But Judaism is not only serious, it is also about enjoying life. In contrast to some other religious traditions that essentially teach that this world is an anteroom to the afterlife and that our task is to suffer through this life to get to the next one, Judaism puts the focus on this world, on this life; it teaches that we should enjoy life.

The book of Ecclesiastes says: “There is no better for a person than to eat and drink and enjoy his/her work. For this, too, comes from God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

The Jerusalem Talmud, in response to those who would vow to forbid themselves enjoyable things out of devotion to God, asks incredulously, “Is it not enough what the Torah has forbidden you, that you wish to forbid yourself more things??” (Nedarim 9:1)

Indeed, Judaism is both about serious things and about enjoying life. The High Holy Days are not only about repentance but about community. Pesach is about freedom, but also about really good food. On Shavuot, we punctuate our discussion of Torah and morality with cheesecake and blintzes. One of the primary mitzvot of Shabbat is Oneg – enjoying or delighting in the day.

Purim is the holiday of enjoyment par excellence! Here is a day of silliness, enjoyment, fun and dessert, where it is encouraged to make a fool of yourself and it is a mitzvah to drink (within reason)! When we come together on Purim – to hear the Megillah and to celebrate – we take part in what is perhaps the most basic and most important Jewish activity: living.

Our Purim celebration, “New Queen on the Block,” features the music of the 80s and 90s. We will gather the evening of February 28 at 6:00 pm for a megillah reading, spiel, and a NEW, IMPROVED carnival. Special addition this year is Haman’s Hideaway with drinks, games, and fun for the adult set. It all promises to be a good time! I’m looking forward to celebrating with you.

L’shalom,

Rabbi Micah Streiffer

Fri, May 20 2022 19 Iyar 5782