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Red Lights & Judaism
Posted on 10/13/2019 by Marcia Goldlist in Beliefs and Practices
Sometimes I like to stop at red lights. That might seem weird, but think about it for a minute. Sometimes you want to pick up something that fell by your feet, or start WAZE on your phone, or even adjust a mirror, something fast that you do not want to do while driving, but can do during the short time at a red light. In the old days, red lights were also a good time to roll down your window and ask directions.
 Another time that I don’t mind stopping at a red light is when the road ahead is full of cars. The red light gives time for the cars ahead to move ahead, thus allowing me to actually drive forward rather than crawling bumper to bumper with cars trying to cut in and others coming up on my tail trying to see how close they can come to my car.
Judaism, also has red lights. Shabbat and holidays are a religious red light. Stop! Relax for a second. Take a breath from the bumper to bumper pace in life, or the speed of the highway. Take a drink. Adjust your view. Check your spiritual barometer. Check out where you are.  Are you headed in the right direction? Where should you turn?
The holidays give you time to check your autopilot. Is it set correctly, or perhaps it is time to take yourself off autopilot and go on manual.
Sometimes we take direction for granted. We just flow with our lives without examining where we should go and how to get there. For instance, in many countries, it is common for university to follow high school without a break. There is often no thought, just autopilot. That is what is done. I’m not saying that continuing on with university right away is bad by any means, but sometimes a break of some form would serve the purpose of helping the youngster figure out what he or she wants to do in life, or present an opportunity for new experiences.
Sometimes, we all need a red light. It could be that whatever we would have done on autopilot, or wherever we were going, is what we decide to do. That is fine. No one is saying that autopilot takes you to the wrong place, just that it might not be right for everyone, or there could be a better way, or a different way that is more appropriate for some people.
Red lights give a breather. We can relax from the traffic and make sure we are going in the right direction, or take a minute to do something that we wouldn’t do as we drive. Holidays, give us more family time, more time to meditate and talk to God, more time to think about who we are, who we want to be and what we should be doing and what we can do to make ourselves better people and better Jews. We sometimes need the time to rejuvenate. To juice our batteries and check our compasses.  
Each holiday, including Shabbat guides us in a mission and gives us a connection. We are to connect with ourselves, our families, other Jews and of course God. We are to connect to our history, our present and our future. Each holiday is precious. Indeed, each day is precious, but sometimes we need the red lights to help us focus.
In this period of seemingly non-stop holidays we are encouraged to check our compasses. Are we sure we are headed in the right direction? Can we do better? Can we try harder?
Every child knows that a red light means stop. We should all take the opportunities given to us to stop, rejuvenate and refocus our lives when it comes to our holidays. Don’t waste the opportunities before you. Don’t just drive on autopilot. Remember the past related to each holiday, think of its message and see how it can redirect your purpose, your goals and your direction in life.
This year should be a year of meaningful red lights. They shouldn’t be looked upon as a waste of time, making it longer for you to get to your destination, but rather an opportunity.  Take the time to refresh yourself, to think of something out of the box, something that will help make your life more meaningful, fulfilling and on point. This year don’t look at red lights, or holidays, as nuisances which slow you down, but rather opportunities for growth!
Marcia Goldlist is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online. She was the author of one of the blog postings selected for the Second Quarter 5779 Jewish Values Online Best Blogs.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
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