By Hannah Reich Berman
At one time or another, many people engage in wishful thinking. Who can’t think of things that he or she would like to see changed? I can think of several changes I would love to see. My list is a long one but I’ll mention a few of my favorites. One sweet dream of mine is to see lower taxes. (Actually I’d like to see no taxes, but I understand that that’s not an option.)
And I know I’m not alone when I say how much I wish that the United Nations had not allowed the Iranian madman to address its members recently. Astonishingly, he was allowed to do so and, given that fact, don’t we all wish that every member of that august body had seen fit to walk out as soon as the man opened his mouth? For two reasons, I refuse to name him. For starters, he belongs in the same category as Hitler and Haman, being someone so evil that his name should be eradicated. In fact, now that the yomim tovim are over, I have some spare time, so I plan to hunt through my Purim paraphernalia in the hope of locating my trusty grogger. I intend to keep it handy and use it whenever his name is mentioned. The second reason for my refusal to write his name is a more practical one; I can’t remember how to spell it! I also don’t speak his name aloud because I have a hard time pronouncing it. Chances are I could learn it, but I don’t want to.
Going forward, I would like to see other changes in my world. It would be nice to hear that nutritionists have made new discoveries. I’d love to find out that carbohydrates and fats are now considered not only healthful, but also low in calories.
Rescinding my earlier statement, my list of wishes isn’t long—actually, it’s endless! On that list, there is one wish that might be well worth mentioning because my guess is that a great many folks can relate to it. It is my desire to see the following words stamped in every machzor and also to hear these words announced by the rabbi just before the start of Kol Nidrei: “People over the age of 70 are not required to do so much standing on Yom Kippur.”
It’s not the standing that gets to me; it’s the up-and-down, up-and-down scenario. I’m not alone in finding this a strain, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We stand, we sit, we stand, we sit, we stand—and so it goes. And that’s just the Shacharis service. By the time we get to Mussaf, I’m so wiped out that getting to an upright position takes a supreme effort and I find myself wishing for a crane to swoop down and hoist me to a standing position.
Given the fact, however, that cranes are motorized machines, I’m forced to acknowledge that it wouldn’t work out on yom tov. A pulley would also do the trick. But since it’s doubtful that anyone will give me the permission I seek, which is to do more sitting than standing, my guess is that I should forget both the crane and the pulley and just do the best I can. Still, as I age, I may be forced to look further into this matter.
Another of my wishes, one that is both fanciful and totally impractical, is that all of our two-day chaggim would fall on Saturday and Sunday. This refers specifically to Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah, the first and last days of Pesach, and, last but not least, Shavuos. If I’ve left out a chag, it’s purely unintentional. As Purim is only a 24-hour holiday, it doesn’t fall into the above category. And for sure Chanukah doesn’t count because, although it is a full eight days, it doesn’t disrupt the workweek.
And Chanukah is so much fun that some of us wouldn’t mind if it lasted longer. For starters, that holiday gives us carte blanche to indulge in sufganyiot (donuts) and potato latkes, and who would argue with that? It’s a concept I can live with. But, alas, miracle though it was, the oil burned for eight days and not longer, so an eight-day holiday it is.
As regards the aforementioned two-day yomim tovim, if indeed they would always fall on Shabbos and Sunday, it would eliminate the dreaded three-day stints that occur when yom tov is on Thursday and Friday, or on the other side of Shabbos, also known as Sunday and Monday. A Shabbos-and-Sunday chag would not only spare us the three-day stint, it would also eliminate the three-day workweek such as the ones we just had.
This was a rough season for someone whose memory is slipping. Half the time I was saying “good Shabbos” and the other half I was saying “good yom tov,” and I’m sure there were times when I got them mixed up. Confusion reigned supreme, as I was never quite sure what day it was. Each Wednesday I thought it was Monday. The lone exception was the week of Yom Kippur. It fell on a Wednesday, so that week I thought Thursday was Monday. That week things did work to my advantage because Yom Kippur tired me out and, since my exhaustion wasn’t short-lived, it was a blessing that Shabbos arrived two days later. I needed the rest.
Something tells me that my wishes will remain just that—wishes—and nothing more. I may as well wish for the moon, because the likelihood is that none of the above changes will be taking place anytime soon. Not every idea is feasible. But, since ruminating about it can be an enjoyable pastime, I will continue to daydream. In the meantime, I hope everyone had a wonderful yom tov. It’s the last one for a while. And, for anyone who might be interested, this coming Pesach we can look forward to a three-day situation. Like many of my fellow tribe members, I already checked it out. Even a dreamer can have a practical side—although it’s not entirely clear to me what’s practical about knowing the days of the coming holidays, since it’s not as if I can do anything about it. That’s the way it is!
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.