As you know, it’s been a busy first two months of 2013 for me. Starting a new firm, trying to get the entire infrastructure set up so that we are technically compatible with the 21st Century, looking for new clients and networking partners to sustain the practice and on the whole just learning how to go it alone for the first time in my career. (Although I will admit, having my wife as a partner has been such a blessing—I know I’m not alone and that is so comforting!)
But with how much running around I’ve done, it has sometimes felt like I’m a whirling dervish, always in a different location with a different purpose, goal or objective. You can imagine the minimal time that has been available for some downtime, for calmness and serenity. It’s easy to lose focus and forget that there needs to be pleasure and relaxation in life.
The synagogue at which my daughters go to Hebrew School is going through a bit of a transition period; we are searching for a new Rabbi and, for one reason or another, I was asked to serve on the committee whose task it is to hire the new Rabbi. It is a daunting task, one which is fraught with a ton of responsibility. I believe that the Rabbi is not only the religious center of the synagogue, but is also the true leader of a community, in both the spiritual and educational senses. But not all Rabbis are made equal and certainly each synagogue has its own personality and expectations of what its Rabbi should be like. Thus, finding the “right” Rabbi can be challenging—a good hire can strengthen a synagogue; the wrong hire can weaken it.
The process of finding a new Rabbi is the same process as any other human resources process. Review the resumes, have interviews, give them a tryout. Step three was this past weekend and, because of the whirlwind tour that the auditioning Rabbi was going to be experiencing, it required me to be at the synagogue an awful lot.
I consider myself to be an observant Jew, but not observant, if you catch my drift. I know the holidays, that every Friday night through Saturday evening is the Sabbath, and am certainly aware of the dietary laws. But I am certainly not orthodox. I do not observe the Sabbath, I do not attend temple every week, I love bacon too much to keep kosher; however there is certainly no doubt in my mind that I am what would be considered a good Jew.
While it has never been my custom to be ultra-observant of the Sabbath and spend the weekend in temple, the prospect of spending virtually the entire weekend at temple was something to which I was actually anticipating with excitement. Simply because it is on television while I am writing this, just as in “The Amazing Race,” when certain tasks have been completed, there is a mandatory rest period. In the first chapter of the Bible, it was Shabbat and for Jews everywhere, on the seventh day we are commanded to rest. Yet so few of us do and I found that, because of the hectic nature of the first two months of the year, I was due for that rest. It may have been overdue, but it was much needed.
So to temple I went and allowed myself to be encompassed by the pomp and circumstance of the auditioning Rabbi, the people, and of course the meaning in the prayers. And I think that there may have been a higher power involved. At one point in the service Saturday morning we were reciting the prayer that is also found in the mezuzahs that Jews place on their doorposts, which includes these words that we recite in Hebrew: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy G-d with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart.”
As the congregation was reciting these words, I felt a buzzing in my right pants pocket. It felt like my phone was going off, but as I reached to my hip I remembered that my phone was on the seat beside me, far away from my pockets. It was just a weird coincidence that I would feel this vibration on my hip at the time we recited those specific words that are so important in the Jewish religion, our commitment to G-d. As if it was intended to remind me that, whereas I rely so much on computers and handheld devices as a means to remain connected with others, that I don’t need those same instruments to remain connected with my religion and that, for all of the stress and tumult of daily life, it is important that I take a break, rest and make sure that I reconnect with myself, my family and my Judaism.
I am not trying to proselytize or espouse any religious theories; I am simply offering this as a reminder of the need to unwind, step away from the stresses of our busy lives and make sure that we re-center ourselves, however you choose to do it. It may be on the golf course, or in church, or at the mall or at the beach. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of life; to our responsibilities at work, to our clients, to our creditors, to everyone and everything out there that to which we owe attention and consideration. But amongst all of those, our primary responsibility has to be to ourselves. For if we aren’t cognizant of our own needs, then what good will we be to everyone else?
Just like all of the legs of “The Amazing Race,” sometimes we need to take that mandatory rest period and actually rest. It can be so rewarding…