Sunday, September 15, 2013

Don't forget - you're not you anymore

By: Shayna Chana (Samantha) Hulkower

Something interesting happened to me this morning. During the Aseret Yemei Teshuva I decided to take on and give up a few things, just to challenge myself a little. One of the things I gave up was coffee - partially because I didn't want to have to worry about a caffeine withdrawal headache on Yom Kippur, but also as someone who drinks a lot of coffee, it was important to me to know that I could go without this thing; that I wasn't addicted to it.

As you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to my first cup this morning, after Yom Kippur. I had bought some of the good stuff - turkish coffee - last night. I was going about my normal morning routine, which included, without thinking, two heaping teaspoons of coffee. I let it sit and cook into the hot water with more patience than I would have expected from myself. Finally - I dove in. The taste, the smell, - even just seeing my favorite mug filled with this magical black liquid that was gone from my life, it all made me so happy.

About 20 mins later, I realized I wasn't feeling so well. My hands were getting jittery and I felt like I had more energy than my body wanted to deal with. "I guess I'm more sensitive to caffeine after going without it for so long," I realized to myself, and proceeded on with my day.

Then it hit me - I was different, my old routine wasn't suitable anymore. After Yom Kippur we are all changed people. Part of what makes Yom Kippur a Yom Tov is that we are supposed to expect that G-d is going to wipe our slates clean. How often do we take that for granted? It's a superficial comparison, but I think very fitting - I'm physically different now than I was 10 days ago. In Elul I could have had two cups of strong coffee and still fall right back asleep. There's no way I'm sleeping any time soon after that much caffeine. I'm much more sensitive, and the smallest amount makes a big difference.

Think about how you are different. All of those things you davened for over the past 10 days, and especially on Yom Kippur - you are that person now. G-d did His part, but wiping away and removing the blemishes on our souls that we created and made it so hard to change - but we are free of that now. The hard part for us is remembering that. We no longer have those bad habits we wished away - whether it's talking gossip, getting angry, over eating, whatever - we just have to stop and remember.

May we all have an easy transition to who want to be and not forget to utilize this gift we've been given. A good and sweet year to all!