Over a week ago I had the opportunity to travel with a group of women to the graves of several Jewish sages in northern Israel. (This is an amazing blessing about living in Israel, where you can have ‘field trips’ like these!)
I went to Amuka, where many pray to merit to meet their spouses – I was at Amuka only once, when I was seventeen and praying for my own shidduch! The drive there isn’t easy, with hairpin turns and a steep descent. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return (or when I’ll be ready to repeat that drive!), so I took the opportunity to pray for the future spouses for all of my children (all the way down to two year old Yirmiyahu :)) and for continued marital harmony for me and my husband.
Afterwards we traveled to Tzfat to the grave of the Ari HaKadosh, and from there to Meron, to the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. At Meron, there were several people collecting for charity but I didn’t know they’d be there and didn’t have money ready to give. After I finished my prayers inside, I took out money to give each of the collectors on the way out.
The last woman I gave to looked at the coins I placed in her hand and as I walked away, began yelling after me: “What am I supposed to buy with this money? I can’t even buy flowers for the holiday with this!” As she was yelling about my stinginess, I was thinking how much easier it is to deal with someone’s displeasure when they aren’t close to you. I didn’t like that she was annoyed at me when I was trying to be helpful but I was able to accept that was her feeling and let of it.
This remains a lesson for myself at this particular time – to maintain an appropriate emotional distance from those who return acts of good will with hostility, to feel compassion for their troubled state rather than blaming myself for not having done enough or been enough.
Gmar chasima tova to you all – may you have a meaningful, cleansing, powerful Yom Kippur as you let go of the limitations that keep you from forgiveness of yourself and others. May you see yourself accurately, with all of the flaws that need work and teshuva, and appreciate all the beauty and strength that you mistakenly tell yourself isn’t enough.