Jewish Training Wheels

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On Rosh Hashana, at one of our meals, an interesting question was posed. Why do we have so many holidays bunched together: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot? Would it not be more effective to have them spread out?
I started to think about this. Of course, I do not know the answer, other than this is what was told to us in the Torah. However, it makes sense. Let’s use the analogy of someone learning to ride a bike. When you learn to ride a bike you usually use training wheels, although today many people use low bikes with no pedals and wide tires. The premise is the same, you first have the child (or older person) learn with safe conditions, with the least chance of falling. The person first has to get used to balancing and steering the bike before being sent on a road trip or off-road into the hills.
I think it is the same each year as we try to find our way at the beginning of a new year. We need our training wheels, wide tires and low bikes to make sure that we have our balance. It would be a mistake to start off too hard. We need help. So, God is with us, guiding us, helping us balance our lives.
It may seem like too much some times. But just as we caution a child about taking off the training wheels too fast, we also need help. The way is bumpy – life is bumpy. We sometimes have trouble keeping our balance and wobble this way and that. The training wheels – our holidays –  help to keep us straight.
They connect us to God and to our ourselves. They get us thinking about what kind of people we are and what kind of people we want to be. This helps us during the year keep our balance. So, be glad for the training wheels – for the days which help us evaluate ourselves and bring us closer to God. But, get ready for the day that those training wheels come off.
Prepare yourself well now. Stop complaining about the time in synagogue and/or the time around the table eating and appreciate them. Appreciate, the opportunity for growth and use it to its full advantage.
I hope that the coming year is an easy one with lots of fun and happiness filled with clear meaning and purpose. But, if there are bumps, I hope that you can overcome them without too much difficulty.
To use another analogy, think of buying a computer or even a cell phone or other electronic item with a rechargeable battery.  It may not be true anymore but when you first bought these products you had to plug them in for twenty-four hours to give them a really good charge. Of course, as you used the device you had to keep plugging it in to keep it charged and therefore working. Those first twenty-four hours which were needed before you used the device is like the charge you are supposed to get during this holiday season to start you on your new year.
Every year you may ask? My phone only needed that one time shot at the beginning of its electrical life. That may be true but a product, even though we all know much can go wrong with devices, is not nearly as complicated, confusing and important as our own lives. So, God gave us this recharge once a year. Once a year we plug in for an elongated time before we have to make it for longer intervals between special days. Thank goodness for Shabbat. Our mini charge which comes once a week.
But, you may question, if we really believe should we not be able to manage without all these special days. Well, most of us need a refresher every once in a while. We need something to remind us that God and only God is King. That we need to forgive others and ourselves. That we need to work on ourselves to be better people and better Jews.
Yes, I’ve eaten a lot and we haven’t even got to Sukkot or Simchat Torah yet. But, may the good food, the conversation and spirituality be sustenance that can carry us through both good and hard times. May our batteries be charged for when those training wheels get removed and we have to get on with the rest of the year. May the training and the charging help us become better people and better Jews.
I hope that you have already gained and during the next few weeks gain even more spiritual energy, wisdom, self-insight and motivation to help you make this a truly meaningful, fulfilling, productive and spiritual year!
Marcia Goldlist is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online. She was the author of one of the blog postings selected for the Second Quarter 5779 Jewish Values Online Best Blogs.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
During the High Holidays, in the process of teshuvah, we repent for past sins. I understand that in our (Jewish) view, repentance means that we are sorry for the sins that we have committed, we try to repair the injuries we have caused, we ask forgiveness from God and man, and we resolve to do better in the future. Christianity appears to have a very different idea of what it means to repent and atone for a sin, and how a sin is forgiven. Can you try to explain this difference, please (I understand that I am asking Jewish rabbis, and not Christians to speak to these differences)?
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