It was fantastic being home with my family, my dad gave a kick ass sermon, and my mom’s cooking was plentiful and delicious. Life is good.
The first night, my dad was telling us about what different communities say about eating particular fruits on Rosh Hashanah, why some people eat pomegranates, some people eat apples and honey, and some people eat dates, and some people eat a combination of those.
And before I could stop myself, I said, “And you can eat all three, concurrent or consecutive, but you can’t eat apples and pomegranates without the dates. Dates are compulsory.”
I’m editing this piece at work, a transcription of a very meandering speech, and what’s emerging is just so meaningful. The author is a rabbi, and he says that one of the hardest things about his work is feeling good about it. He always felt like when he visited someone in the hospital, for instance, he couldn’t just visit them because he genuinely liked them and wanted to offer them emotional support, couldn’t really accept people’s thanks, because that was part of his job.
And then he got sick.
And he realized, seeing the difference between the nurses who saw him as a person and the ones who were just trying to get through their shift, that there’s a difference between doing the job and genuinely being present for someone, and that THAT was something he could respect about himself. He no longer dismissed that as “just doing my job.”
As we get deeper into the Yomim Noraim, I’m definitely going to have more to say about the things I need to make amends for, but for this moment, it’s interesting to consider the things we don’t give ourselves enough credit for.