Photo of a father reading Cat in the Hat in Hebrew to his daughter.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Which Is Holier?

Does greater holiness inhere in holiday celebrations, or ordinary moments?

Are the holidays holier than the rest of the year? One could make the argument that holiness inheres in specialness. On the holidays we wear our best clothes, gather to pray special prayers, try to focus on things spiritual. Once the holidays end, life returns to the run of daily concerns.

But there is a Jewish principle, tadir ushe’aino tadir, tadir kodem — when a mitzvah is frequent, and another infrequent, the frequently observed mitzvah takes precedence. This side argues that holiness is found in the commonplace. Surely there is nothing holier than greeting one another on a new day, or reading to a child as they drop softly to sleep each night. A well-lived life shines through the quotidian, the routine of living, no matter the spice of special occasions.

The “holiday season” is here and there is a sadness as holidays recede, but also a sense of relief. Each time has its own kind of sacredness. Peaks, plains and valleys, all are essential terrain. For the questing soul, each day, God awaits.

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Rabbi David Wolpe’s musings are shared in My Jewish Learning’s Shabbat newsletter, Recharge, a weekly collection of readings to refresh your soul. Sign up to receive the newsletter.

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