How can we repent without coffee?

  • Howard Feldman 2018
I woke up on Monday morning to the realisation that I’m nothing without caffeine. I have no personality; I can hardly string a sentence together; and I’m certainly not a very nice person. Indeed, if someone were to fall over in front of me, there is more than a good chance that I would be so annoyed that I would have to step over them. Assisting them, injured or not, wouldn’t be an option. Not without caffeine.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Oct 10, 2019

Monday morning meant 24 hours since my last coffee. It meant there was another 36 hours to go before the start of Yom Kippur, 25 hours of the fast itself, 30 minutes following the end of Yom Kippur when we would be trapped in shul for a gratuitous no-explanation reason, and then another 30 minutes before it would be possible to actually make something worth drinking. Eighty- six hours without caffeine might not sound like a lot, but it’s a long time to hate oneself and every living creature that G-d put on this irritating earth. In 86 hours, I reckon I could have ruined my marriage, alienated my children, lost all my friends, and repented for nothing! And that’s without touching social media.

As a positivity coach, I feel a professional responsibility to at least try to view the situation from another perspective. Maybe that means applying the old “you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone” adage to gratitude. Logically, this means going full-festival appreciation for the underrated cup of java.

It’s time to declare a day or two as a festival dedicated to the celebration of the gift of caffeine. It’s not as bizarre as it might initially sound. Truth be told, I don’t understand half the reasons why we Jews celebrate our various holidays. I don’t really understand some of the fasts that we observe (think the Fast of Gedalia), and much as I pretend to, I’m still not clear why we shake the lulav over Sukkoth. Perhaps it’s time to celebrate one of G-d’s special gifts to humankind, to reflect simple gratitude for something we adore.

I have no idea if it will be a one or two-day festival (but in the latter case, I would be happy to take on the extra day) and I have no idea what food we will eat. I do know that it will be a festival like Purim where we can use electricity so that we won’t be shackled to instant coffee as on Shabbat.

During this time of the year, it’s customary to ask others for forgiveness for something or things that we might have done to them over the past year. It’s a time when people try harder to be sensitive to the needs of others so as not to upset anyone, and to avoid adding another thing to ask forgiveness for. For me it doesn’t quite work that way. A simple excel spreadsheet recording provides me with unequivocal proof that my list of forgiveness required increases exponentially in the 60 hours before Yom Kippur, rather than the other way round. Little wonder, considering my behaviour.

Which proves, once again, that coffee isn’t just good for our heart and brain, but also for our souls.


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