The first two days of Sukkot (the festival of Tabernacles, which is probably as meaningless to most people in English as in Hebrew) was a bit of a wash out. It rained heavily and almost constantly for two days. There were small lulls in the rain on Saturday afternoon, which meant we ate in the sukkah (the temporary hut in the garden where we are supposed to live during this festival) for Shabbat (Sabbath) lunch and I had seudah shlishit (the third Shabbat meal) there and a small meal out there just now, but otherwise we couldn’t go out there. The first two nights we said the minimum amount of prayers out there and ate a little bread to fulfil the mitzvah (commandment) of eating bread out there the first two nights, but it was far too wet to eat properly, which was a shame. I’m not sure how much we’re going to get out there during Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days of the festival, which start tonight and run until Friday evening. Hopefully it won’t rain all week. I guess it’s a reminder that, as comfortable as our lives are, we are still in exile; in Israel rain during Sukkot is a rare event.

The other main news is that I went to shul (synagogue) on Saturday afternoon for Minchah (Afternoon Prayers). I was very anxious about being back in a social setting, and that I didn’t know exactly what I was going into (the classic autistic fear). Everything was very different to the pre-COVID normal, with masks, social distancing, hand sanitiser, few people and all kinds of new regulations to reduce contact between people (e.g. everyone has to bring their own prayerbook and the furniture inside the shul has been reorientated from east-facing (facing Jerusalem) to south-facing to allow better social distancing). I had an aliyah (call to read from the Torah), which was also done in a new, very different way to avoid contact again. I accidentally touched something I should not have touched, whoops. It was OK, but I felt very anxious the whole time and I am not sure how much that is due to unfamiliarity and autism, how much to social anxiety, both of which may reduce with practise, and how much to health anxiety and fear of COVID. I felt very uncomfortable praying with a mask. I will try to go again once or twice a week, but I don’t think I will be a frequent attendee until after COVID, it’s just too uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking for me at the moment. Otherwise Yom Tov was the usual mix of meals with my parents, prayer, Torah study, reading and sleeping. It was too wet to go for walks.

Chol HaMoed is a strange time, neither fully Yom Tov (festival) or weekday. We can do work that would be forbidden on Yom Tov, but should only really do so if necessary for the enjoyment of the festival or if we would incur a significant loss if it was not done. What this means is that I can have my job interview on Tuesday and prepare for it tomorrow, but I feel uncomfortable about it, even without about the worrying busyness of Tuesday (job interview, followed by first ‘proper’ (in person) date with PIMOJ followed by dinner with my parents, sister and brother-in-law). I still think the job interview I had the other week, at the Very Important Institution, is more likely to lead to a job, or at least to one within my capabilities and meeting at least some of my mental health and autistic needs.

10 thoughts on ““For the rain it raineth every day”

  1. Well when Israel lived in tents they were in exile too so it sounds like you are having an authentic experience. The last time I stayed in a tent over twenty years ago I got Lyme disease from a deer tic. 😦 It was hard on my health and mental health. I have to admit that it would take an awful lot to get me back into a tent. So of course I end up having a dream years ago that someone comes and takes me by the hand and leads me into a tent and I experience intense happiness and peace there. Guess it’s just God’s way of saying “stop looking on the surface of things and trust Me.” The door of hope is often in the valley of bitterness I guess. I hope I recognize that hand when it comes and cooperate. 🙂 You just never know and so I hope you can be at peace and enjoy Tuesday’s interview and date. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like you’re making the best of the situation and modifying your activities accordingly. I’m happy that you have so much on your agenda, although it sounds exhausting. Best wishes for the interview and date!

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  3. So interesting to hear about your experience being back in shul! It’s weird to think that it’s been so long since I’ve been in a shul. Our shul has been allowing for limited in person attendance with advance sign-up; one reason I have been hesitant to go is because of not really grasping the shul etiquette during these times. Sounds silly, but being familiar with the expectations and etiquette makes a huge difference.

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