December Writing Challenge Day 10: What Day Is It?

(This week’s post originally appeared on as a comment during the 2020 December Writing Challenge.)

As I write this, the first Chanukah candle has burnt out, a brave but dim light against the sea of darkness. But it will be joined in the next 7 days until the heat and light will be impossible to quell or ignore. And so, with his permission, I’d like to build on the thought presented earlier in the comments by @mjperkins:

“And the rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
Rhythm on the inside rhythm on the street
and the rhythm of life is a powerful beat” *

One of the unintended consequences of my lifestyle (i.e.: orthodox Judaism) is that there is an inescapable rhythm to things. Every day carries the steady beat of shacharit, mincha, and maariv (morning, afternoon, and evening prayers).

The secular week begins on Saturday night with havdalah (“separation”) and culminates with Shabbat.

The beginning of months are marked by adding Hallel prayers. The seasons carry special additions for rain or dew.

And throughout, the holidays punctuate those more natural and cyclical rhythms. There are the 7 days of sukkot; 8 days of passover; 49 days of the omer. There’s the month of Elul when we rise each morning to assess how the past year has gone, and which counts down to Rosh Hashana where we pray we’re given another year to try to reach our potential. And so on.

While I sympathize with everyone here who has suffered from that feeling of timeless-ness, the question of “what day is it” in my house (and in my neighborhood) is rarely heard. It’s 3 days since (or until) Shabbat. Purim is just 2 months away. And so on.

Far from diminishing my perception of time, the pandemic has increased my appreciation for the wisdom of sages who passed from this world long ago, but understood the effect of stress and strife on the human psyche, and offered a means to overcome it.

* – I know those aren’t the original lyrics Sammy Davis Jr. sang, but it *is* the lyrics most of us of a certain age learned in grade school, and I’m going with it.

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