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Ballot Box: Issue 924

One of the great ironies of life is that few things are as anxiety inducing as relaxation is. Readers share stories from the trenches

Vacation, bein hazmanim, summer getaway. Call it what you want, in the end, it’s all the same yesod: Relaxation. A good few weeks of relaxation and you’re ready to tackle another zeman, semester, or grueling work schedule. But one of the great ironies of life is that few things are as anxiety inducing as relaxation is. Just the thought of relaxing is enough to make you break out in a sweat. Readers share stories from the trenches.


As a bubby of a large clan, my most enjoyable activity is to take advantage of the summer scenery and get the whole family together for a beautiful family picture. This year, I decided that everyone should wear matching sky blue, which would make a perfect portrait to hang in my dining room. The day finally arrived, but then… Zalman, why are you wearing green?! Baila, where’s Shloimy? What do you mean he had a sleepover in Passaic? I told you this was a … Chaim, what happened to your face? You fell off of what?? The photographer is charging five hundred bucks an hour. What could I do? I pulled out my checkbook and cut my losses. For now, maybe I’ll just keep the picture of the Kosel up there.

Vacation Preoccupation

The urge to make sure we maximize our short vacation by packing in as many activities as possible and not missing any of the “must-see” sites can make vacation anything but relaxing. And I’m not even getting started with the arguing among the kids over who sits where in the van or who sleeps in which hotel bed. As my husband is fond of saying, “family vacation” is an oxymoron.

Identity Crisis

Every year when summer comes around, I no longer know how to refer to my friends, because anyone working in a camp suddenly possesses semichah. The guy who I commute with to the office every day? He’s the administrative director of Camp Torah V’Chesed V’Sportz, so I’m not sure now if he’s Moreinu or if a simple HaRav HaGaon will suffice. The bochur I bump into every Thursday night in Yapchik, who switched yeshivos five times this year? He’s a head counselor, so next time I see him running into the 10:30 Shacharis in Satmar wearing just an undershirt and tzitzis, I just stand up and address him as rabbi.


I’ve always dreamed of that blissful experience of a mountaintop vasikin minyan. So I got ten people to enthusiastically sign up for the job. “Sure,” they told me, “4:49 won’t be a problem.” Of course it wasn’t because seven of them were fast asleep. For the three guys who showed up, including me, 4:49 was takeh a problem. Because, bleary-eyed as I was, I realized I couldn’t even send a text because the slumbering vasikiners keep their phones off while they sleep. So this is my eitzah tovah: to learn how to get inspired at 9:30 a.m. The chances of success are much higher then.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 924)

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