The good old nursery rhyme that goes “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” marks the beginning of summer.
As the rhyme evokes a sense of freedom and independence, many of us look at summer as downtime — vacations, “staycations,” weekends away. It’s a time to indulge a bit in what may be called self-care or, dare I say, self-indulgence.
Meanwhile, others are “stuck at work,” trying to make a living to pay the bills or earn some “extra money” to be able to take a nice vacation at the end of the summer.
Summertime has a whole different vibe than the rest of the year, one of a more laid-back time and atmosphere. However, the goal and feeling of summer relaxation should not be one that is self-indulgent.
A lesson in this matter is offered to us by Mark Douglas, the CEO of the Los Angeles-based digital marketing and advertising company SteelHouse. He requires his employees to go on two weeks of vacation every year. They get reimbursed for up to $2,000 of expenses for their vacations.
As always, there is a catch. They cannot take the money instead of going on vacation! They must take the time off and do whatever they want, just as long as it is not illegal. The result is that the company has found that people who come back to work tend to be recharged and more productive.
Hence, the goal of summer vacation is to recharge one’s batteries to be ready for the fall and winter. As we return to what’s known as “regular life,” we want to be invigorated and renewed, ready for the next chapter in our journey.
But if you do not take
care of yourself throughout the summer and don’t eat well, sleep well, get
exercise, etc., instead of coming back invigorated, you come back worn out
“like a shmatte.” As we have all
heard or said at some point, “I need
a vacation to recover from my vacation.”
Similarly, Torah study and commitment to our Jewish values are not work, G-d forbid. As we say in the daily prayers, כי הם חיינו — for they are our life.
When we relax over the summer, we need to ensure that we breathe, take care of our physical health and take care of our spiritual health as well.
There are many ways to study remotely these days. Go to your shul’s website and see if they have any recorded classes. Or you can visit Chabad.org, Jewish.tv and many other sites as well.
Our Wednesday evening class at our shul is livestreamed at Facebook.com/HarfordChabad.
Take a vacation from work, but do not forget to live life! Happy vacationing! And make it, as they say across the water, a holiday “a HOLY day.”
Rabbi Kushi Schusterman is spiritual leader of Harford Chabad in Bel Air.