The vinegar and sugar preserve the mixture so that it can be made in advance of Shabbat and served at room temperature for the s'udah sh'lishit meal Saturday afternoon.
I began my journey to Judaism nervously. Unlike the Charedim (ultra-Orthodox) who are anxious before the word of God, I was anxious in the uncertainty of the future.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, "Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time...Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year."1
At my vacation home community, the conversation on the tennis court most Mondays centers on the same topic – weekend guests. Everyone has something to say about the guests who have left, those who are coming, and the ones still in residence.
One recent Shabbat, on the anniversary of his bar mitzvah, a young man with autism chanted Torah at our erev Shabbat service. I've been thinking about it since, and was genuinely moved by the whole experience.
Jerusalem is overrun with stray cats. Most of the week, they hang out on sidewalks and hide under parked cars, but on Shabbat they lounge in the middle of the street, baking in their patches of sunlight, daring you to move them or for a car to disturb their well-deserved nap.
In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
There are many elements which make the High Holy Days a unique experience. Often, congregations swell to double or triple their usual size, the musical settings of even common liturgy are different, and some might alter their dress by wearing either traditionally all-white garments or more formal wear than they would sport on Shabbat. Some congregations even have unique garments to dress their Torah scrolls in white.