The other day, I was listening to Shlomo Katz in the car, when he started singing the intro to a song like this:
‘On the holiest day of the year, the holiest man in the world would enter the holiest place; and he would say the holiest name.’
He was talking about the Kohen HaGadol’s Yom Kippur service in the temple. Just then, I came round the bend in the road I was driving in the Old City, and the golden dome hit me full in the face. For a few seconds, all I could think about was the temple, and how we Jews are missing it so much, without even realizing it.
Just think of this: you could drag the most crazy person in the community off to the temple, give them the fattest bull you could find to slaughter is as an atonement – and that person would come out of that temple service a human being again, maybe for the first time in their lives.
Man, we are seriously in need of the temple, and the atonement and peace it could bring to all the troubled souls wandering around in 2015.
The same week I was having ‘temple envy’, I was also trying to find one of my kids a new school. It’s one thing to have demented lunatics trying to stab you on the way to school every day (God forbid), but it’s another thing entirely when you get to school only to find that demented lunatics have taken over the classroom, too.
I’m not going to spell out in detail what’s been going on, as a belated and pathetic attempt at minimizing my lashon hara, or evil speech, but suffice to say it got to a point that I didn’t know which matzav – the outer threat of physical violence, or the inner threat of emotional and spiritual violence – was really more scary or damaging.
I was praying on it for weeks and weeks, unsure whether to try to move my kid (again…) or just try to tough it out, and wait for the Arabs to calm down a bit, and the ‘difficult person’ in school to really cross the line, and get forced out by other parents with less patience and more gumption (and protektzia).
In the end, God forced my hand: my daughter got suspended for 3 days for complaining too loudly about the fact that she had 6 exams coming up in the next two weeks.
In the UK, you usually have to be caught doing hard drugs in the school toilets to get suspended, and even then it’s not automatic. My usually calm, level-headed husband tried to sort things out – and came off the phone foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth.
I’ve watched him stay calm around some of the most crazy-making people you’ll ever meet in your life, so his reaction to a 5 minute ‘dose’ of the difficult person showed me what my kid was really up against.
But moving is so hard!
For a few more days I was in an agony of indecision, unsure what to do, or how to even do it. I decided to do a long hitbodedut (personal prayer) session, and at the end of that I got the message loud and clear: get your kid out as soon as possible.
But to where?
Next thing I know, my daughter starts telling me about this newish school in Har Homa that she’d be happy to go to. One of her friends from class had already moved there, and another wanted to go, but wanted someone to come with her.
Long story short, we went, we had the interview, she sat the tests, and she starts tomorrow, together with her good friend from class.
A miracle! Thanks, Hashem!
But it’s still scary to move.
And it’s even scarier to tell the ‘difficult person’ in the old school that we’re leaving. Part of me feels so sorry for her, because I know she’s so hard on others because she’s so hard on herself, too. But I couldn’t risk her damaging my kid’s neshama any more.
This generation only kicks against harsh punishments, cruel words and power trips – and God’s made it that way, because ‘harsh discipline’ is not the Torah-true way of educating our children. It always should have been ‘education with love’, as Rav Arush writes about so extensively, but in this generation education with love is not a luxury – it’s the ONLY way to relate to our kids.
In the meantime, I think about all the children, all the adults, who have been so fundamentally warped and damaged by all the criticism, harshness, anger, shame and blame they’ve experienced, and it makes me very sad.