So, when I went to London, I thought I had two weeks to go until Rosh Hashana.
And the truth is that I did a week and a half ago, when I was planning my trip to the UK.
So when I got back just now and saw that Rosh Hashana is FOUR DAYS AWAY I freaked out.
I am completely not ready for a new year right now. I feel like Elul passed me by in a blur, blotted out by my mid-life crisis and my kids both starting new schools. There’s been precious little cheshbon hanefesh going on, precious little formal teshuva, precious little looking back over the year to see what I need to really atone for or fix.
Spiritually, I’m all over the place at the moment, still trying to figure out who the real me is, religiously.
And now it’s Rosh Hashana again, that most dreaded, awesome, and for me plain awful time of year, when everything is hanging in the balance for the future.
How can God judge me favorably this year, when I spent the first three months of it crying my eyes out and sketching out mental plans in my head to move back to the UK, (God forbid) so I could start to feel like a human being again?
That darkest night of my soul coincided with Rav Berland being falsely locked up in an Israeli prison at the end of November, and there’s an idea that when you’re connected to the Tzaddikim in any way, you kind of experience a very small fraction of what they’re going through.
So with each milestone of the Rav’s slow redemption, I’ve been feeling better.
When he finally left prison for house arrest at Hadassah hospital, the gloom lifted a little. When he returned to Musrara, the gloom lifted a lot.
But I have to say that since Shavuot, when he came back and I’ve been trying to pray with his community once a day, I’ve been hit by an internal ‘Hurricane Rivka’ pretty much every day. I seem to get so much inner work to deal with when I’m by the Rav, and it’s blowing away so many of my certainties, flooding me with humility (and occasionally a deep sense of shame), and fusing all my ideas about who I really am and what sort of spiritual level I’m really standing at.
Sure, it’s all for the good, because as Rav Dessler taught, the problem isn’t so much that people do bad things, because we all do bad things all the time. The problem is that we don’t acknowledge our bad, and try to pretend that we’re someone and something we’re not.
And at least for me, that option has been taken off the table the last few months.
And now, it’s Rosh Hashana 5778.
What’s going to be?
The honey cake isn’t made, the menu isn’t planned, the shopping isn’t bought – and now it’s two days away. That lack of external prep seems to be mirroring the lack of internal prep.
What’s going to be?
Whatever it is, it’s clearly going to come as a present this year. I can’t throw all my good deeds at the Lord this year, and proudly proclaim my piety. I’m a mess! I’m relying on God’s mercy 100%.
But maybe, that’s the way it should be?