Just to preface, I've been an A Capella-only during Sefirah guy for quite a few years now, ever since I learned about the customs of mourning observed during this time period. Recently, however, I had a literal wake up call that really got me thinking.
One morning, I lazily shut off the first of my several alarms required to get me on my feet to head to shul. I also snoozed the next two after that. The last one, which successfully had me up and going, kept repeating for a bit before I managed to find my cell phone and come to my senses.
Only then did I realize that my alarm was a snippet of a TV theme from a show that I happen to be a fan of. Flipping through my other pre-set alarms from earlier that morning, I noticed that they were also TV themes or songs I liked. In case you're already guessing, no, I'm not knocking watching TV (especially in moderation, as ASoG and I do online). What struck me was the fact that my morning alarm was MUSIC.
I remembered when I first returned from Israel, post Shana Aleph, and certainly during my years at YU following Shana Bet, how everything I used to do was very, for lack of a better term "b'kavanna." I used to think about my actions, even the most minute of them, and figure out how they related to my overall sense of religious identity and observance of Torah and mitzvos. I recalled how I specifically and very intentionally would change both my ring tone and my alarms/text sounds to non-musical selections during this time of year, as well as during the 3 Weeks.
I'm ashamed to admit that I honestly can't recall what I did during the past 3 Weeks period from this past summer. However, since that recent morning, I really "woke up" to how much my focus has changed since those times, freshly returned from Israel.
Don't get me wrong, I am not in any way advocating flip-out behaviors that many young men and women exhibit upon their return from the Holy Land. I am, as usual, pointing to certain grey areas that are worthwhile and beneficial. I don't advocate strictures or observances that impact negatively on others, but if there are little things that go the "extra mile" to remind you of what's really important, such as having a proper mindset during this time period of national mourning, then I think it's worth it. My wife will certainly not notice whether my alarms going on and off are musical or simply repeating beeps, alarm bells, or roosters crowing (she actually isn't such a fan of the last one, but it wakes me up).
On a related note, it's about time I do something about needing multiple alarms to get me out of bed. I need to channel that inner lion in me to wake up with vigor and enthusiasm.
A friend of mine once told me he heard Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl joke that he gets up every day like a lion... a tired lion is a lion, too!
Anyway, I'm sure we all have things we've become a little less conscious about, whether we went to Israel for one or two years - or not at all. In a time where we should be preparing to re-receive the Torah once again, it behooves all of us to do some self-examination and find these little (or not so little) things, become more aware of them, and live more conscious, thoughtful lives.
PS - School has been taking its toll of me as of late, hence the lack of regular postings. I can't promise that things will change, but I hope to be far less absent that I have been in recent weeks. Please bear with me, and I thank all the readers, both the new ones and the regulars, for continuing to visit during my absence.