One of the more interesting things about having a large family, is the huge age difference between the children. The way things work, is that you are actually raising several different generations simultaneously. When the older ones marry, things get more complicated. The children of the older ”generation” are more or less the same age as the children of your younger” generation…”.
Envision this happening on an ordinary Shabbos afternoon. The girls are schmoozing in the kitchen. Four boys who are brothers, but of different “generations”, are hanging out in the living room. The four- year old built a really huge tower using magnablox. It’s far bigger than he is, and he is standing on the couch to add what presumably will be the penthouse, since there are no more pieces for another story. Suddenly the entire structure meets the fate of all kid-built towers; it crashes to the floor. The little boy begins to cry inconsolably. His older brother who just entered yeshiva ketana (high school age yeshiva) says, in the manner of unsympathetic teenage boys “you don’t even know what’s worth crying over. I’m in trouble with the mashgiach. That’s real.”. The twenty-two-year-old says, “That’s nothing. Apologize and grow up. You don’t know what real life is about. The last date I had was a disaster. I really wanted it to work, but she doesn’t want to see me again. That’s the real stuff”. The 35-year-old interjects, “Forget it. You’ll find the right one when Hashem wants you to. You can’t imagine the stress of meeting mortgage payments and paying tuition at the same time. You don’t know how demanding raising a family is”. They are all right. They have all forgotten some things, and are not as yet willing or able to see other things. Enter their worlds, so you can see something of yourself in them.
Be the four-year-old. Did you forget how much fun it was to build your fantasy with the brightly colored tiles? How important it is for you to see them crash so you can move on to things that are more real.
Be the fifteen- year old. Did you forget how much you love the moment your mom took you to buy your clothes, as you saw yourself moving into another phase, one that has more truth and more power. How much you want to shine, and how the mashgiach is there to help you not fall back.
Be the twenty-two-year old. Did you forget how much you want to see yourself move beyond being a piece in what is ultimately someone else’s puzzle. How each date gave you hope that your time has finally come. How much you want it to be the right one, and how honest you have to be about how both of you have to be on the same page, and what an important lesson this will be later.
Be the thirty-five-year-old. Did you forget how struggling and sacrifice turns you into the kind of hero you want more than anything to be, and how your kids and your responsibilities build you more than they take from you.
Why am I telling you all this? With Rosh Hashanah rapidly approaching, it’s important for you to have a deeper and broader vision of who you are, and what it is you really want in the coming year. You want to live a meaningful life, which ultimately means having a real connection to Hashem. You don’t want to spend the next 50 years doing the equivalent of weeping over fallen pieces of plastic.
One of the customs for Elul is reciting Tehillim 27. Arguably the most meaningful line is “I ask for one thing; it’s that that I seek; to live in Hashem’s House all the days of my life….” Being in Hashem’s house in the simplest sense means living to see the Bais HaMikdash. King David, the author of this psalm lived before the Temple was built. He wanted to be close to Hashem, surrounded by His presence. Aware of being a member of His community and living a life in which every day and every activity has meaning.
David was a king. His function was to act as a living example of what it means to let the ultimate king, Hashem rule. He had to relate to Hashem with absolute selflessness. He was forbidden to have the horses, women, and money that gave other rulers their sense of importance. His role was to be part of the greater picture continually.
On Rosh Hashanah, your main task is to commit yourself to being conscious of how much you want Hashem to be your ruler. Not your ego. No other people’s voices from your past or your present. Not your bank account (or lack thereof…) and certainly not your body’s endless demands.
One week of Elul is behind us. It’s a good time to think about how free you can be if you let Hashem be your own ruler. How much more fun life is when you see the whole process, and not just the incomplete episodes.
Now be yourself
Stuck in the visions of fragmentation
Longing for the Whole
Make room for it