Jewish Practice Squeezed into Life

One of the reasons I became a rabbi was to be able t0 incorporate Jewish life more thoroughly into my own. Owning my own business makes it difficult to practice Judaism in the ways I might otherwise. When Friday night or Saturday morning roll around, I’m often too tired from the work week to make it to services. Weekday morning services certainly don’t happen very often anymore, since I’m at CubeSpace by they time they begin. And even preparing for Passover wasn’t possible in our usual way.

Most years, Eva and I spend one to two full days cleaning our kitchen  for Passover. We clean out all the Chametz (leavened bread), but also anything that might become leavened bread (flour), or pretty much anything besides matzah that contains flour. All of the food stuffs which are not okay for Passover we put in boxes in the basement. We change the dishes to special ones we only use for Passover, we wash all of our flatware and then dump it in boiling water to ritually cleanse it of any Chametz. We clean out all of the cabinets.

This year, we just didn’t have the time or energy for that kind of cleaning. In truth,  I have the sense that even now, with Passover begun, we have items with Chametz not only upstairs, but even on the counter in the kitchen. We are not eating the Chametz, of course, but it is present in our lives in a way we would normally not allow it to be.

At the same time that I find the demands of running a business to be limiting my ability to practice Judaism in the ways I have in the past, I find new practices more compelling. For instance, there is a tradition not to shave during the Omer, a period of 50 days between Passover and Shavuot. This year, for the first time, I plan to observe that tradition, because it is a way for me to mark Jewish time. If I am not able to make it to services for Shabbat, I tend to say the Sh’ma before bed each evening (traditionally, Jews recite the Sh’ma before bed and upon arising in the morning; it is a statement affirming the oneness of God). And though I may occasionally even have to work on a Saturday, I find myself wearing a Yalmuke more than I have at other points in my life.

I have found my practice shifting from the more conventional practices to the ones which fit into my life now. For the most part, I find that satisfying. I certainly miss the observance which is too hard for me at the moment and hope to return to it, but in the meantime, the little actions that are part of my day to day life keep me attached to Judaism. In this way, even when I cannot be fully present to Jewish ritual practice as I would like, I find new ways to practice.

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