Jew in the suburbs


Hectic Friday, Blessed Shabbat
October 8, 2008, 1:35 am
Filed under: Jewish, Judaism, Shabbat, Shabbos, Shul, Torah | Tags: , ,

 

 

Dear Blog Readers,

 

This past Friday afternoon I did my usual Shabbat preparations.  I was able to leisurely get dressed and get last minute things in order because I had been preparing since the night before.  I was ready to leave my house early and expected to be at my Shabbat destination in plenty of time before candle lighting.  The problem was I arranged for transportation to pick me up and that transportation was at least a half hour late.  Then, I was informed that the driver had to drop someone else off before me, and then he got lost.  I sat in my seat quietly and nervously glancing at my watch.  I called someone on my cell phone to check and see when candle lighting was ( I always like to double check things) The person on the other end of the phone told me that candle lighting was at least a half and hour earlier than I thought it was.  You see, only about a week ago I got my new Jewish calendar, and the problem was that when I looked up candle lighting, I accidentally looked at candle lighting for the first Shabbat in September instead of the first Shabbat candle lighting in October.  I hung up the phone quickly and said to the driver, “I hate to complain, and would not normally do so but, I have to get somewhere for religious reasons.  He turned to me and said “What do you want me to do?”  I said, I don’t mean to be disrespectful to you in any way, and I don’t want you to leave anyone stranded.  I really need to get there before the sun goes down.  He again asked me what I wanted him to do and said “give me 5 minutes.”  I said all right but he either needed to get me to my planned destination or take me back home.  We were still closer to my home than my planned destination and I was confident I could make it home and light candles there.  I wasn’t confident that I could reach my planned destination which was at least 20 minutes away.  I said again, I don’t mean to come off as disrespectful in any way but if you don’t get me there I can’t fulfill my obligations, and I am in the wrong.  I have to get there for religious reasons.  I have to light candles.  When I said I had to light candles, he said, I understand and I will do the best that I can.  He got on the highway instead of taking the streets and went as fast as he could safely.  I kept looking at my watch; the sun seemed to be mocking me.  It was in my eyes and getting lower and lower.  My stomach was in knots; I said please G-d let me get there on time.  I was filled with stress.  The driver did get me to the place I needed to be and, helped me with my suitcase.  I thanked him and said G-d bless you.  The knots in my stomach were subsiding.  I knew I still had minutes left and I wasn’t quite into the extra 18.  I went into the house, lit, said the blessing, and went to Shul filled with such relief and such gratitude.  I was calm again.  

 

This past Shabbat was Shabbat Shuva, the last Shabbat before Yom Kipper, and the women’s section seemed more packed than it usually is on a Friday night.  I sat down with my Siddur as the sound of the Shabbat evening service melodies floated to my ears.  I felt so inspired and so loved and so part of something.  I was so grateful that I hadn’t missed one moment.  I was so grateful to feel so connected and all my worries disappeared.  I thought to myself this is where I am and this is where I should be.  I thought about how I may not have appreciated the candle lighting and Shabbat service as much if it were not for that hectic rush to be there on time.  If it weren’t for that rush, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the calm, maybe I would not have felt as connected to the people around me who also came to Shul.  Shabbat allows us to slow down I also think that a rush before Shabbat comes in, shows us that the slow down is needed in our lives.  May you all be sealed in the book of life for a good life and a year full of only blessing.

 

 

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Yom Kippur is almost here: Letters of forgiveness

 

 

Hello Blog Readers,

 

  In previous posts, I have discussed repentance and gearing up for the New Year which has now come. What I didn’t tell you was how blessed I feel because of the New Year.  I haven’t told you before that I joyfully anticipated the New Year and that I am so happy that it is now here.  Last year was a very difficult year for me on a variety of levels.  One particular event which I may post about in the future stands out in my mind.  It is this event that causes me to think more than ever about forgiveness.  Seeking forgiveness and forgiving are very popular and necessary activates during these days of AWE.  In this past year, 5768, a person hurt me very badly.  If G-d forbid, I hurt someone, I do whatever I can to make it right.  Even more painful, than this person’s actions toward me was the lack of remorse shown.  This lack of remorse and the continuing behavior made it impossible for me to heal in front of them.  Every time I tried to express myself, all I got from this person was excuses and justifications.  The fact that someone could hurt me, be unapologetic and continue the behavior before I had a chance to heal from one ordeal was almost unbearable.  I truly believe the only thing that got me through and made me stronger, was my belief in Hashem, my belief that he does things for a reason.  In fact, for weeks there was a prayer I recited almost daily to strengthen one’s faith”, in a book called Aneni.  This prayer is very long but I made sure to say every word and I cried.  I cried many times saying this prayer begging Hashem to hear me, listen and count the tears that I cried.

 

I have been told by my friends that I am so good that I would step around ants,  I always want to do good and sometimes I feel that I don’t measure up.  We all know that we take out our pain on these we love most. That is where the saying you hurt the ones you love comes from.  I did this.  There are people in my life that I love dearly and I knew that they would always love me so sometimes, without meaning to, I took out my pain on them.  I told them I didn’t mean to do it and I told them how much pain I was in, but telling them that I didn’t mean to take the situation out on them didn’t seem to be enough.  During the month of Elul when I was first beginning my Teshuvah process, I wrote these people a letter thanking them for being so supportive, apologizing for taking out my pain on them, but acknowledging that my pain was no excuse, telling them and meaning it that I wasn’t mentioning my pain as an excuse. I was simply stating a fact.  I told them that I love them,  I told them how much they meant to me, I thanked them from the bottom of my heart, and as I wrote, tears rolled down my face.  Since I had been contemplating this letter for hours, I knew what I wanted to say, and didn’t expect the tears, but I was happy that they came.  That night I prayed to Hashem to help me completely let go of the pain that a certain person inflicted on me.  That night, I prayed to Hashem to help me forgive this person.  I knew the only way I could completely 100% move on was if I forgave this person.  I want to make one thing clear, I never wished harm on this person even after the person hurt me, but every time I thought of this person, I could feel the hurt.  In the beginning it was a throbbing pain, and as I began to move on, it became an ache.  The night that I prayed to Hashem to help me forgive, I released the person who hurt me from my life.  This means that if by some chance this person enters my mind there is no sadness and there is no anger there is no excruciating pain, and there is no ache.  I do not miss this person and I know I didn’t deserve the treatment that I received which at the beginning I blamed myself for.

 

 It is important to remember that just because you forgive someone for tremendous pain they may have caused you it doesn’t mean that you have to invite them back into your life.  It can just mean that you release them from your life. By this I mean you don’t think about what they would have said, or what they would have done in a certain situation, you don’t think about the cruel things they said about you, and you know the things that aren’t true.  Forgiveness can also mean that when releasing the person who injured you, you release yourself from a burden no longer worth carrying around.

 

I gave my letter seeking forgiveness to the people who helped me through a very difficult time and who always understood why I was in pain.  I received their forgiveness and they were happy to receive my letter, however there are times that I have forgiven someone by writing them a letter which I never send.  In some cases when you are trying to forgive a person, in my experience, they don’t always have to read or hear the words that you want so desperately to say.  Sometimes writing a letter forgiving someone and not sending it is enough to forgive and release yourself from pain.

 Although I feel that throughout the past I have been moving on, with the New Year, I feel completely free of the pain.  I feel as if the pain I felt was not my own but some other woman’s, who my heart can go out to.  Of course I know that the pain I felt happened to me because of the process I had to go through, in order to deal with. It made me a stronger woman, and I’m proud of that. 

 

Thank you Hashem for helping me through and helping me to become stronger than I was before!  Thank you Hashem for this New Year and may we all be sealed in the book of life for a good life of only Simcha.   Have a meaningful yet easy fast!