Thursday, September 20, 2007

Real Tshuvah, the hard way

This year was tough. I did a lot of things that I don't even want to think about again, let alone struggle with. I said things that hurt others, I didn't say things that could have healed others, and I let myself down.

But now I have a chance to make some changes. This season inspires me. Real tshuva is not simply saying sorry for what you've done that missed the mark. Real tshuva is doing it right the next time you have the chance, choosing to do right and actually doing it.

My acts of tshuva this year involve my family, but not in the ways you might guess.

You see, my celebrations and observances of holidays and rituals are important to me. And I'm tired of seeing these experiences go to hell in a handbasket. My seders have been meaningless, devoid of any crumb of struggle or anything even appropriate for my son. Reading around the table doesn't do it for me. My break-fast has been perfunctory, not celebratory. My Rosh HaShanah meals were on paper plates and didn't involve hot food. Kashrut has occasionally involved making sacrifices that I don't feel comfortable making. For me, Shabbat actually begins when candles are lit (at the right time), not whenever you feel like it because a trip to the mall was more urgent. For me, Shabbat doesn't involve TV or the Metropolitan Opera on the radio, or driving to shul just to show off the grandchild. And it definitely does not involve making phone calls just because grandma can't be bothered to talk on the phone any other time of the week except for 9pm Friday night.

This year, tshuva means that I will have seder. I will do it right this time instead of waiting for my parents to change. I will craft the rituals that complement each Shabbat and chag so that my family will have the chance to make meaning of them for ourselves. I do not promise to be a balabusta, but I will do it myself. It also means that I will have to be truthful in the kindest way to my parents, my grandmother, my in-laws, and most of all myself.

Al cheit shachatati l'fanecha, for the sin which I have committed before You, God,
by putting others' needs always before mine
for shalom bayit when it does not involve any shalom for me
for pacifying others by squshing my own spiritual needs
for putting kibud av v'em, honoring parents, above every other mitzvah every time
for making excuses

and most of all, for the sins which I have committed before You, God, without even knowing it.

This time, when I do it, I will try to do it right. I will be more exhausted, but certainly I will be satisfied spiritually in a way that will be more inspiring for my son and husband, and less contentious, causing fewer squabbles between me and the people I love the most.

Wish me luck.
Gmar Chatima Tova--may your name be inscribed in the book of life.


Helena said...

I wish you an easy fast. Letting go is so hard, whether it's food, traditions, perfection, guilt. Tshuvah isn't supposed to be easy, I've learned. That's what makes it all the more meaningful.

May you and Klal Yisroel be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

Thrice Blessed Momma

Ima Shalom said...

I think you're definitely up to the challenge! One of the best seders I've ever attended was in your apartment in Jerusalem oh so many years ago. I actually cried the next year b.c. my family seder was such a far cry from the wonderful experience I had with you and your husband.

Maya said...

What a beautiful post! You're definitely doing the right thing! And you're an inspiration.