Days of Awe

September 25, 2014

We’re one day into 5775, the year—in the Hebrew calendar—which began about 24 hours ago, at least for my local readers. In English Rosh Hashanah means head of the year. It’s also the beginning of the Days of Awe, which is one cool description for the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. (The same period is also called the High Holy Days, but Days of Awe has captured me.)

The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, which requires periodic adjustments. I’m sure plenty of Talmudic scholars spent many lives figuring out how to keep things on track, more or less. There are certain date parameters for the Days of Awe on our Gregorian calendar. I know this because, in 2013, Yom Kippur fell on September 14, which is my birthday. I did not recall that ever having happened in my lifetime, and I was right, for the last time it happened was in 1899. Based on what I have read, I’m also reasonably sure Yom Kippur will never again occur before September 15.

The Days of Awe are a period for introspection, deep thinking, and, yes, repenting. Frankly, though, the notion of repentance gets overplayed a bit, perhaps because here in America there are almost 70,000,000 Catholics, many of whom do confession with some frequency, and about 6,000,000 Jews, some of whom do the repenting ritual once a year. Introspection must include repentance, but there’s more, much more!

For me, the period in the fall seems to work best for introspection. True it is that there is a big focus on resolutions in late December/early January, but it’s also a time for travel, family, celebrations, and the like, which takes away from being focused.

So where am I going with all of this? I heard a story on National Public Radio by Deena Prichep on Wednesday, September 24, called A Place to Reflect during Jewish Holy Days—That’s Not A Temple. The story is worth a listen and it’s less than four minutes long, but for me the big takeaway was a website,, created by Ben Greenman. You should have started yesterday, but it’s easy to catch up. You go to the site and register. (You do have to provide a birthdate, so I suspect there may be some marketing coming, but there hasn’t been any yet.) Each day you answer a question. Today’s question:  Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

Your answers are retained. (You can share them or not, but the default is “not.”) And the best part? In a year your answers are sent to you. That’s the element that attracted me, for life marches on, and I rarely think back on what I planned to do in the prior year(s).

Introspection works, anytime, for anyone. So, Jews and non-Jews alike, check out Do You 10Q and see if it suits you. And, however, you understand why you are here, may your days be sweet, and may you get value out of your daily toils.

P.S.  In closing, I had a piece just about ready to go about nonsense, including upset over a Presidential salute that included a coffee cup, the former Vice President mouthing off about nonsense, and a Fox News commentator making the allegation that Eric Holder ran the Justice Department like “the Black Panthers would.” Alas, we’re heading into a weekend, and there will be plenty of time to take these people down! Just. Not. Right. Now.



Leave a Reply