There is an old story of five people in a boat. None of them like each other that much, so they mostly keep to themselves. Everyone is happy to allow the other to do their own thing. One day, the person in the corner begins to hack at the wood in the bottom of the boat. At first, everyone is fine with this. However, it’s not long before a small leak appears. The people say that the person in the corner should stop what they’re doing. The person in the corner argues that they’re doing their own thing and it doesn’t matter. The people respond, “When your actions affect all of us, it’s not just your thing.”
This month we will celebrate the holiday, Hanukkah. There are many rituals and festivities associated with this holiday. We kindle the Hanukkah candles each night to spread and increase light and warmth even in the darkest and coldest times of the year. We spin the dreidel with its four Hebrew letters, nun, gimel, hay, and shin, making the acronym, Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, meaning a “great miracle happened there.”
We find ourselves amid the Days of Awe. These begin with the welcoming of the New Year on the evening of Rosh Hashanah, and end with the shofar blast at the conclusion of the N’ilah service on Yom Kippur.
We don’t always associate August with the season of love. However, there is a little-known Jewish holiday which usually falls early to mid-August. This is the holiday Tu B’Av, translated to the not so inventive name of the 15th of the month of Av (occurring on August 16th this year).