Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving it Over to Him

It isn't always easy trying to do something which is out of the ordinary.  As the modern expression goes, I am acting 'out of the box' and am praying that I will gain strength and flourish along with it.  After so many changes and periods of growth, this is yet another extreme test of my emuna.  The difference is, this one was self-imposed.  I trust in HaShem and I have no doubt that He exists and is ever-present in my life.  I also believe with all my heart and soul in the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, of blessed memory, and all the beautiful lessons of life that have sprouted forth from him through Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita, may they be blessed always.  Therefore, I am taking their advice (as I interpreted it) with regards to our parnassa, income. Rabbi Brody explains that our income is designated for us at Rosh Hashanah and whether we work 50 hours a week or 10 hours is irrelevant as parnassa is in the Hands of HaShem. As long as one’s time is spent in spiritual pursuits either by learning or practicing the laws of Torah, then the expression “G-d will provide” is a reality.

They also teach that it is the husband’s responsibility to support his family and while I have tried to contribute my fair share, it has been very difficult for me as a working mother and wife. It’s all very nice to try to be superwoman, to work outside the home, look after the family’s needs and still have a grain of time left for myself. In reality though, it is impossible and something has to give.  In my case, it is usually the home which suffers. Before we made aliya and when our older children were small, I made it my occupation to be a mother and would never think of going out to work.  If the house was a mess, it was only because my energies were spent looking after my family and the physical home was secondary in importance.  Now that our kids are no longer children, it’s a whole different story, complete with a new set of expectations and requirements.

I tried to internalize my role as a wife and mother (as stated in Women’s Wisdom and elsewhere) and came to the conclusion that I must spend more time doing what I am meant to do in my life and fulfill my true purpose in the world.  I found that I was unable to do that in my present job.  The organization in which I was employed was beneficial for the time being and fulfilled its purpose, but then things changed.  About a year ago they reorganized the job descriptions and moved everyone around. There were so many internal changes and politics, I found it was no longer conducive to my personal or spiritual growth. On the contrary, it became a enormous effort to refrain from participating in loshon hara. Before the summer, I had a talk with my boss who felt there wasn’t much work for me unless I was willing to do work which was not my ‘cup of tea’.  The choice was either doing work I didn’t enjoy or be laid off.  So I conceded and pushed off the inevitable until after the Chaggim, Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot.

At the same time, I began to have an urge to stay home more to be able to cook properly for Shabbat, invite more guests, bake challah and keep the house in order. As it was, I had no energy left by the end of the week. I wanted to leave my job but I felt if HaShem gave me this opportunity, who am I to quit and pass up much needed income? I also preferred to be fired than to quit so I could receive severance pay plus unemployment benefits which I have been paying into.  I was going to ask my Rav what to do, but decided to go straight to my Boss for his opinion; That is HaShem. I told Him how I felt and explained that I was thankful for the job and did not want to sound unappreciative, G-d forbid, but I really want to be a full-time homemaker once again, and have more time for my writing and spreading His Light. I was giving the decision over to Him and asked that He should guide me in the right path. 

The next day my boss (employer) called me into her office. I knew things were very slow and wasn’t surprised when she said she was giving me 30 days notice. She felt very bad as she did not want to let me go but she had no choice. I told her it was fine but it was more than fine. I was overjoyed.  I don’t think she understood how I had a smile on my face as she was firing me, but I couldn’t help myself. 

As usual, that wasn’t the end, as the yetzer hara (evil inclination) had to stick his head into the equation.  The following day, after rethinking the situation, my boss called me into her office again. She told me that they really didn’t want me to leave and she offered me a different position in the organization.  I considered it for about 10 seconds but then politely refused. That was 30 days ago. 

A bit of background on the beginnings of this job is also amazing and a clear-cut acknowledgment of G-d’s intervention.  When I began working for this wonderful organization almost two years ago, my husband and I were just in the early stages of learning with Breslev and trying to get our marriage back on track.  I wanted my husband to attend Rav Arush’s Yeshiva, but it was far and complicated to reach from where we live so he only went once.  It was no coincidence that my place of employment was just around the corner from the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva so I made it my mission to convince him to join me each morning on the journey to work. It became a daily routine which gave us some quality time together and he is now committed to attending Gemara classes every day regardless of whether I accompany him or not. 

So here I am feeling like I have repossessed my life. I am free to fulfill my true goals as I see them and with HaShem’s help, I pray that we will never want for anything despite my unemployment.  May it be His Will that we merit to receive all we need to live our lives in abundance according to his Divine Plan.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Bus

I know my blogging is very sporadic with blog posts few and far between, but G-d willing, that should be changing soon. As soon as I can, I will try to write a blog about what is going on in my life (some changes), but for now I just want to share a nice, little incident that happened on the bus today. If it wasn't so over-used, I  would call this blog post "Only in Israel" since it surely wouldn't take place anywhere else in the world.

I was on my way home from work, and I was sitting directly behind the seats with four grouped together; two seats opposite each other. An older man whose back was facing me was a very friendly man, talking to everyone who came and sat down in his section. He even gave a pen to a little boy sitting across the aisle with his Abba (Daddy), instructing him to use it for his limudai kodesh (religious studies) homework. When a young man in an army uniform came on the bus, there was an empty seat next to him, so the older man stopped him in the aisle and asked him to sit there. It seemed like he knew him already, but it's not certain as he treated everyone as a good friend. 

This sociable older man proceeded to take a bouquet of greenery out of his bag and gave a twig to each of the men sitting in his quartet. All of them were smiling and talking and smelling the little sprigs. I tried not to listen or watch too closely as my manners taught me, but I couldn't help feel the sense of camaraderie among these strangers on the bus. There was no way he could have seen me admiring this whole event, but he suddenly handed me a twig of my own without even turning around. I was barely able to say "thank you", when he was giving another to the girl beside me. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent that it was a small branch of Hadass (Myrtle), one of the four species we use on Sukkot as part of the Lulav. I said a bracha (blessing) and deeply inhaled the beautiful and natural fragrance.

After awhile, two of the passengers departed and left the two seats facing my direction unoccupied. Before long, a couple of high school boys got on the bus and as they began to pass by, our friendly 'Goodwill Ambassador' caught their attention and asked them to take the two seats across from him.  Glad to have somewhere to sit, they happily took their places as directed. After a bit of chit chat, the nice older man handed them each their own piece of Hadass.  They looked at their gift curiously and accepted it with a smile. Knowing that the boys were secular, the older man and the religious soldier were anxious to help them out with a kippa and a prayer. The soldier lent them his own kippa as they took turns being guided word by word in reciting the blessing over the greenery. It has been some time since I have seen such a beautiful sight.  Here were so many worlds connecting - an older religious, Sephardic man, a young observant soldier and two secular young men, all joined in a mitzvah, on a bus no less. What an irony that the center of this unity was the Myrtle Branch, the same plant used in the Lulav which itself represents a coming together of our People. 

Eventually they each went their own way and I was left with a feeling of contentment and joy. I only wish I had asked the older man his name. If I didn't know better, I would have thought he was Moshiach!

May each one of us strive to accomplish in our lifetimes what that man did in a short bus trip home.  May we soon merit to witness the true Moshiach, in our days, Amen.