After the Holiday is Before the Holiday

Rosh Hashanah is behind us, and now we prepare for Yom Kippur

Ultra orthodox jews walk by a "Sukkah" (temporary dwelling), in the ultra orthodox jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem on September 09, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ???? ????? ??? ????? ????? ????? Photo: Flash90

Our Rosh Hashanah “Jewish New Year” celebration went precisely as I predicted it would: The children were not persuaded to eat our delicious salads, but did reluctantly stuff chicken in their mouths in order to get their chocolate ice cream after.

We will not have these problems on Yom Kippur, because the children are very good at fasting. For them this means that they do not eat “real” food, only sweets. They are already hungry, just not for food with less than 50% sugar content.

Of course, children do not fast on Yom Kippur. Once they reach the age of 7, they can try to fast if they want, but this usually only lasts a few hours. From the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah age (13 for boys, 12 for girls), children are also obliged to fast, which is usually quite difficult for them. But it is very good to show them that life is no picnic in which everything is always taken care of. Those who can survive a day of deprivation are all the happier about everyday things like eating and drinking.

On Yom Kippur, however, our little girls do not eat meat or other dishes that are very filling, they should also have a little of the Yom Kippur feeling. There are sandwiches and snacks until the fast is over and then we prepare something delicious.

In our weekly Torah portion “Vayelech” we read:

And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel, and he said to them, ‘I am 120 years old today; I can no longer move in and out; The Lord also said to me: “You should not cross this Jordan!”’

(Deuteronomy 31:1-2)

These verses are the basis for the Jewish birthday greeting, “Until 120!” Moses died at this age and 120 has been considered the limit of a generation ever since. When someone has a birthday, we wish for them to live as old as possible. However, according to Wikipedia, there was a woman, Jeanne Calment from France, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days. The oldest man, Jiroemon Kimura from Japan, only made it to 116 years. So maybe the 120 limit is only for men, and women shouldn’t be congratulated in this way because it could turn from a blessing to a curse that steals from their lifespan. I have to ask my rabbi.

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