I’m in a bad mood today. And really I have no reason to be. The weather couldn’t be more beautiful, I snuck in an extra day home with my family, we’re putting up our sukkah leisurely, with plenty of time, under a blue sky, in a gorgeous backyard. So why so glum, chum? I guess it has to do with expectations, the letdown after the big two, all the lead-up and then with a quiet, but disappointing fizzle it’s gone. The entire month of Elul before the High Holy Days are meant for spiritual exploration and contemplation. I do that. I gear myself up with lots of introspection, meditation, purposeful intention, prayer and various exercises. I also do it inadvertently by learning and relearning the liturgy, melodies and customs surrounding these holy days in our tradition. There is a lot of pressure related to these days. A lot of pressure on me professionally, but also personally. Spiritual pressure is no less weighty than other kinds of pressure.
The expectation that one is going to experience some injection or at least infusion of divine, ethereal, transcendence. Something that leaves you feeling something even remotely resembling a spiritual high. As I prepare and then lead services I envision myself enlightened, floating, calm, peaceful and happy. But it is a big responsibility to lead services, to hold a community. I’m worn down by the work load, the amount of preparation and the sheer number of hours standing, singing, leading. Instead of entering nirvana, feeling spiritually euphoric, I’m left with a giant roll of cortisol fat around my middle, feeling like a humungous greasy sausage. Which only makes me hate my body more. “min ha’meitzar karatiy Yah!” – from the narrow strictures that bind me, threatening to suffocate me, I call to God!
Expectations are illusions, created in the mind. Still, those expectations are very real bindings, as real as the ones around my chest, restricting my movement, my breathing, my being.
min ha’meitzar karati Yah, anani vamerchav Yah
May all who are confined, constricted, limited, hindered, bound, imprisoned by the limits of expectation be liberated by the abundance of Divine Ubiquity