How come babies don’t need vacation?
The reason that this question seems relevant to me (at least at the moment) is that I have just returned home from a marvelous long weekend with some of my family. It took place in Nazareth no less. The city has two sections, and needless to say the place we stayed was in the upper city, which is Jewish. It still sounds really funny to say that that is where I spent my vacation. The hotel was rented by two brothers who are the sons of Rabbi Yitzchak Stern. I will tell you a little about him, and that will answer to a large degree the Problem Of Infantile Contentment With Life.
I meet Rabbi Stern a short time after my marriage. We lived in Brooklyn for a month, and then armed with $2000, extreme naiveté, and very opened ended plans, we arrived in Israel. The Plan was to stay for two years, and we never actually had a discussion about staying longer. We just did. Our first month was in a friend's apartment. The couple lent us their Bnei Brak home while they visited with their family abroad. This should be ample time for us to plan our lives. It was (sort of).
My husband decided that he wanted to learn in Brisk, which at the time was a very iffy proposition. When he gained admission, it was time to move. My own plans were to find a job and keep house. Since I had absolutely no experience in either area, getting my feet wet was not a simple matter. I had a teaching diploma, but teachers in Yerushalaim were as plentiful as mushrooms after a rain. I had no trouble finding the kind of job that would be a good addition to the income I could earn at a real job (a few hours teaching English in slum schools, one afternoon a week being a companion to an elderly lady, and a bit of house cleaning).
Finding a real job was something else. I finally found what seemed to have potential. Bayit Lepleitot is an orphanage for girls that was started after the war when the country was overwhelmed by the flood of kids who survived, but whose parents didn't. Today, thank G-d, this is no longer the situation, but there are still many girls who come from dysfunctional homes, or homes in which the poverty is so great that their parents literally have no place to put them, and no means of providing them with the basic necessities. It was headed by a Yerushalmi Rabbi, but Rabbi Stern kept the boat afloat. He was a man with a tremendous amount of energy who literally spent the entire day doing good without much respite.
While I didn't last very long in his office we lived on the same street in Geulah, and remained acquainted. I always felt a great deal of admiration for him. He carried the lives of hundreds of girls from the ages of 3 until whenever they got married. He found them their shidduchim, paid for their weddings, and stayed in the picture if they needed him for anything at all. For this reason, years later when I came across a student in Neve who needed someone to take over, I thought of him. President Reagan was the chief honcho in the States at the time. One of his policies in meeting his unrelenting goal of balancing the budget was to release all of the mental patients who weren't a danger to themselves or others.
My student (let's call her Miri, which isn't her name), had a sister, Lisa, who had been an in-patient in a closed ward for over 15 years. A schizophrenic, she had very little sense of reality. After her release, she ended up expecting. No one (least of all Lisa) had any idea of who the father is, and what fate would await the unborn child. Miri decided that she wanted to bring up her sister's baby instead of surrendering it to the Social Service System. This is where Rabbi Stern entered the picture. I made an appointment for MIri. He took over from there. Citizenship, legal adoption, transportation, was all just another part of his day. It never entered his mind to say that this isn't his business, and being a student of his ex-secretary Miri part of his job. Two other children followed (until Reagan rethought his policy). Miri, at the ripe old age of 23 took all of them. She eventually married (Rabbi Stern again). Although the marriage didn't endure, he was there for her every step along the way. The kids are now all adult. They live here, are normal, productive, and well-adjusted members of the Tribe. Who knows what would have been the story if Rabbi Stern was a believer in the famous dictum, "Mind your own business". The critical words that he used when MIri spoke to him was, "I'll help you, you aren't alone."
A baby has no doubts and no stress. The inborn recognition that there is someone who is there for them is strengthened every time their mother picks them up and feeds them. With Elul around the corner, it's time to try to relearn what we once knew. You aren't alone. You are cared for and cared about. Everything that you experienced along the way, has a reason and is ultimately where you had to be at the time. There is no door that you can close that Hashem will nor re-open (possibly in a different way).
The month of compassion and forgiveness is here. Begin by finding the place in you that is secure enough to forgive others, and to ask them for forgiveness. The more you entrust your emotional life to the One who gives you life moment by moment, the easier this will be.