Sunday, 11 October 2009

Isru Chag - An Adjustment

We showed the beautiful images of Sukkot, now to turn to a different adjustment for our Isru Chag falls on a different day to those outside of Israel.

I dont remember being aware of Isru Chag outside of Israel, even though it does occur. However, using a diary that includes all the days, Chagim etc, suddenly I became aware of Isru Chag. As "Ask Moses" defines it; Isru Chag is the day after a chag (holiday). Isru means to bind. The day after the chag enjoys an afterglow of the chag and is therefore "bound" in some sense to the chag.

The term comes from a verse in Psalms 118 which refers to the festival offering as a chag and mentions that it was bound to the altar. The words that are used in that verse are Isru Chag.

We have just completed the Yom Tov of Sukkot, finishing with Shmini Atzeret and Simchas Torah. That is for those of us in Israel. For those outside of Israel, today is still a Yom Tov, Simchas Torah.

For many it takes some getting used to that the 8 day festivals shorten by a day. Therefore Pesach and Sukkot are 7 days in Israel. Some enjoy this, other miss that extra day of Chag.

For some who make aliya and then visit their family outside of Israel during Yom Tov, the question arises as to what to do on the day that is Chag in Chul and regular day in Israel. On the other hand, for those whose family comes to visit them, what does one do to accommodate the extra day of Chag that they need to observe.

There are different customs as to how to handle those in Israel on "Isru Chag" and Olim - now Israelis, outside of Israel during the extra day of Yom Tov. I would recommend talking to your rabbi about this.

For those who talk, skype, Face Book or Twitter to / with family in Chul, another consideration comes into play. Although Israel now enjoys Isru Chag and those in Australia probably are too by now, for those in South Africa, America, England Europe and other parts of the diaspora, they still have Yom Tov and we need to respect this. It takes a little getting used to and a bit of discipline to refrain from making Havdala and reaching for the phone to greet ones family. Whether or not they observe the mitzvos, we still have a responsibility not to cause them to stumble, and it is therefore advisable to use the international clocks to make sure when their Chag comes out.

Aside from this, the question arises as to what one does on Isru Chag. Do we return to work? Do we clean our home and get everything back in order and then return to work the following day? Again there are differences. Some places of work have a half day work on Isru Chag. Schools typically return the following day. For some places of work, Isru Chag is work as usual.

For all of us, both in Israel and outside of it, an important change occurs during the Musaf prayers of yesterday. We now change our focus to praying for rain in the right season, as we turn from summer to autumn and winter. This focus one will come across often, for the Land of Israel, rain is very much intertwined with our prayers.

Enjoy your day of Isru Chag and remember to pray hard for a winter with plenty of rain.

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