BH, Rabbenu’s got our back
As I sat there in shul on Rosh Hashana, where the service seemed to be dragging on forever, watching my two teenagers dramatically slump on each other to ‘sleep’ while waiting an interminable hour for the shofar blowing to start, I thought to myself:
Thank God a million times, that my judgment for the next year is not dependent on this.
Thank God, that I wasn’t relying on the lack-lustre praying, the kind of squeaky shofar blowing, the not-so-inspiring atmosphere where more than a few of the ladies were talking through the service.
When we got home, I said to my girls:
“I am so grateful that the man of the house is in Uman, and that Rabbenu is sorting things out for us. If we had to rely on ourselves, we’d be totally stuffed.”
For once, they agreed with me.
And so Yom Kippur rolled around, and yet again the strange head-fog that seems to envelop me around the high holy days descended, and I sleep-walked into the holiest day of the year. I’m not a good faster, but I was planning to go to shul for Kol Nidre, while I still had a bit of pep.
Instead, I fell asleep on the couch.
I woke up at 9 o’clock, davened a hasty ma’ariv myself, and then shuffled off to bed with a headache. The headache stayed with me most of the next day. I read through as much of the morning service as I could, stood up for the Shemoneh Esrei, tried to ‘catch’ as many misdeeds as I could in my daily hitbodedut, then returned to bed.
Dear reader, I spent Yom Kippur in my pyjamas.
And not for the first time, I said to myself:
Thank God a million times, that my judgment for the next year is not really dependent on this.
My husband was off davening by the Rav, in the Breslov shul (which is a whole other story of itself), and I was so grateful to have that spiritual back-up, because while I did my best on Yom Kippur, it was still pretty lame.
Thank God, I do an hour of hitbodedut every single day, and I’m looking for stuff to apologise for and to try to fix every single day. I have that to rely on, I have that to smooth the path of teshuva, a little.
Because if I was only relying on the teshuva I managed to make on the day of Yom Kippur itself, I’d be totally and utterly stuffed.
The point I’m trying to make here is that following Rebbe Nachman’s advice is not always easy, but the rewards are tremendous.
It costs a lot of money, and is a big schlep for men to go to Uman. The wives who are left at home (especially if they have small kids) display tremendous mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) for sending their men to Rabbenu for Rosh Hashana.
Similarly, doing an hour of hitbodedut every single day doesn’t always come so easy, especially when there is a huge time pressure.
And yet, without those two pieces of advice, where would my ‘teshuva’ actually be? What would my judgment for the year actually look like?
I totally dread to think.
So, thank God for Rabbenu, for Rebbe Nachman.
Thank God for Uman, and for hitbodedut every day.
That’s what kept the panic at bay as I gritted my teeth and tried to sit through another interminable, high holy day service in shul, and another Yom Kippur where I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed.
If I was relying on myself, and my own efforts, I’d be totally stuffed.
But as Rabbenu’s got my back, God willing, it’s going to be a great year.
Read more of Rivka’s musing on her blog at rivkalevy.com