Straight Talk


How do you feel about a person going on a trip just for relaxation?

It depends what you mean by a “trip.”

If you want to take a trip down Ocean Parkway, I’m all for it. It’s fresh air, it’s exercise, and you’re not wasting money. But a trip someplace by vehicle, airplane, or whatever it is, is not refreshing or relaxing.

Sometimes a person finds himself so confused that he needs to do anything necessary to get his mind off his troubles. I’m not talking about this kind of situation. Ordinarily, for relaxation, you don’t go on trips. Trips make you tired, and you don’t get the exercise and fresh air that help a person come back to himself. And therefore, it’s a complete waste of money.

If you’re serious about relaxation, you would take up a system of touring the city streets – by daytime, not by night – walking for miles and miles, and then coming home and eating a nice meal and going to sleep; and if necessary, going out again for a walk. But traveling is not the way to experience relaxation. People travel back and forth; they go to Israel, and to Florida, and some go to Switzerland, too. And all they do is spend money and get more and more tired…so when they come back, they need a vacation.

In Egypt, on the night of the plague of the firstborn, our ancestors were commanded to keep their doors closed and locked. Why, then, do we specifically leave our doors open on the seder nights?

We don’t.

On seder night, we open our doors to symbolically welcome Eliyahu Hanavi. But other than that, we keep our doors closed on seder night, and we make sure they’re locked. Always make sure your doors have good locks on them! We open the doors only as a symbol of our anticipation of the time when the doors will open for Am Yisrael to return home, as the verse says, “Pit’hu she’arim veyavo goi tzadik shomer emunim” (“Open the gates, and the righteous nation shall enter, keeper of the faith”). It’s only a symbol. Open the door for a short while, not for too long.