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You Need a Vacation

November 11, 2018 | by Emuna Braverman

How I really recharge my batteries.

I told myself that after all the holidays were over I’d take a vacation, just to rest and rejuvenate. But there really wasn’t time. My husband and I needed to travel overseas for a business conference.

While the conference was successful, it was definitely work and the travel only added to the effort. I told myself that when it was over I would take a much-needed vacation.

Then we had to deal with some personal and community challenges which pushed off that vacation again. I told myself that when they’re over (but of course they never really are) I would take a vacation, just for a change of perspective. But there really wasn’t time. I was hosting a Shabbaton for 25 women with a speaker from out-of-town. Thank God, the program was successful.

Finally my husband turned to me and said, “Now we can go on vacation.” Our calendars could easily be cleared. Let’s seize the moment.

All of the sudden I was reluctant. Not just because he’s more spontaneous than me. I didn’t really want to go. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I needed a vacation. Despite all my kvetching, I realized that I actually had not been drained by all these experiences; I had been energized.

The Torah teaches us that “mitzvah goreret mitzvah”, that one mitzvah leads to another. If we get habituated to doing mitzvot, we will continue along that path. But it’s more than that. One mitzvah leads to another because after doing the mitzvah, we feel good. We feel excited. We feel invigorated. We want to engage in another meaningful act, another act of connecting to God so that we can get that feeling all over again.

When a real vacation (albeit a short one) was actually in the offing, it was no longer so appealing. I was on fire. I was ready for more. I had deluded myself into thinking I needed a break. I had been affected by the comments and sentiments of those around me – you must be so tired (yes that part’s true), you really need to get away – and hadn’t really looked inside.

I didn’t want to go on vacation. I didn’t want to slow down. I wanted to keep going. I wanted more.

But there are many types of mitzvot we can do, the most important one of course being chesed, kindness to our spouse. And my husband really did need a break. So I put my needs aside (I am truly a selfless wife!) and forced myself (!) to go on vacation. Maybe I did need it, maybe not. It was also energizing and it was certainly good to have some uninterrupted time together. (Oh the sacrifices we’ll make!)

But I really did learn a lesson. I didn’t need a vacation. I was energized by the giving, by the caring, by the investing, by the doing of mitzvot. That was an important insight to keep in my back pocket. Along with the fact that sometimes we or someone we love may truly need a break…


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