1. Get to the Butcherie early if that’s where you do your pre High Holiday shopping. If you are in need of being forgiven but haven’t sinned (Who are you? I’d love to meet you!) then proceed directly to the deli counter line and choose from about seven different surefire ways to pick a fight with the people behind the counter.
2. If you join us for Tashlich at King’s Beach with your small children and went to Woodstock (or maybe that was your scene but you missed it by like 20 years but you still “get it”) and you don’t mind if your child splashes in the water fully-clothed then please just bring a spare set of clothes.
3. Don’t be judgemental. This is G-d’s big day and He rules. Besides, although G-d knows it’s hard to be understanding as you watch your husband’s entire family from Sharon leave the table – without having cleared off even a stray pomegranate seed – head to the couch to crack open the Herald, while remarking how much they will miss the cantor at their Temple this year, remember that our family is the only family we have.
4. Cut your Rabbi some slack: It’s his big day and he’s been cramming for this since June.
5. Be prepared to find at least one or two things that the folks at your shul got right. Remember, whatever you find waiting for you WILL NOT BE PERFECT, but whatever it is, it was the result of a lot of love, thought, time, money, and energy. So go easy, maybe even say something nice – it won’t kill you, and besides it looks good on your profile up there, and G-d knows we can all use the extra points. I know it’s hard but YOU GOT THIS!
6. Don’t wait until you’re heading out the door for services to remember to call your parents or loved ones. Set aside a chunk of time earlier in the day (or week) and try to really catch up. If you have recently lost a loved one make an effort to reach out to family members. It’s easy to forget that they are hurting too.
7. If you are in deep pain over something you’re going through that will hit home especially hard during the holidays, resist the urge to take it out on your loved ones. Remember, you set the tone. If you’re sending positive vibes it makes all the difference in the world to the people that look to you.
8. If you’re not “feeling it,” stop beating yourself up. You’re not the only one. First, give yourself a pat on the back for showing up. Then try and go with the flow … really, you’re not alone, we are all in the same boat but I can promise you this much, if you can manage to find a few moments to relax and just be, it will come to you. It might just be a moment. But it will be YOUR moment, so savor it!
9. Don’t worry about singing if you’re self-conscious about your voice, or not being familiar with the words or tune. Remember, life is too short to spend worrying about what people think. Today is a great opportunity to practice being the lovely amazing being that you definitely are. Besides, someone has to be you and it might as well be you – especially since you’re there anyway.
10. Finally, try letting go of everything you’re holding on to. No one is suggesting that you discard your burdens. But once in a while it’s OK to just set them down for a while and rest. It is OK to struggle with ways that you feel others let you down, or the ways that you might have disappointed others. But beating yourself up is unhealthy and unhelpful. While it’s OK to feel some guilt if it can be a catalyst for change, it’s not OK to burden yourself or others with shame. Resolve to be the best version of you. If the world were not in need of you then you wouldn’t be here. Take this time to practice radical gratitude for all the blessings that have come your way.
To assist with all the above, take two extra strength Tylenol and add this oldie but goodie to your current playlist (written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers). Print out the lyrics and leave it hanging around your house. Throw it on at home and encourage your loved ones to reflect.
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
G-d forbid love ever leave you empty-handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder?)”
Much love to all of you.
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker is the founder of Chabad of the North Shore.