stack of chocolate chip cookies

In ten days time, I’m meant to be flying out of Israel to go to my brother’s batmitzvah celebration in London.

I spoke to him a couple of days ago, and I told him I don’t think I’m coming.

Israel had just announced that anyone coming back from abroad would have to self-isolate for 14 days in bidud, and much as I love my brother, we have no family here, we just moved and I don’t know the neighbors, and there is no-one who could keep my family unit going with groceries if I’m out of action.

Such strange days we live in.

My daughter is currently coughing her guts up and streaming phlegm, as she always does when Spring appears and her hayfever kicks off. Although this year, with all the anxiety about Corona and a few other things going on in her life, her asthma has also ramped up again.

Most years, my daughter’s seasonal hayfever and asthma is not a big deal.

This year, with all the hysteria about Corona, she’s scared to leave the house in case people think she’s going to kill them with a sneeze.

====

In the meantime, in my own dalet amot I’m having such a strange mix of tremendous good, and tremendous confusion. On the one hand, the house we managed to miraculously rent has blossomed into such a beautiful home.

We had Purim seuda yesterday, and for the first time in 7 years we had enough space to invite a few families together. Honestly, it was initially a little strange, but then we whacked the music up, started dancing and the magic happened and le ha fochu. The weird atmosphere broke and everything turned around.

For a few hours.

====

So much of the time right now, I don’t know what’s good and what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong.

Yesterday, I went for a walk to the Kotel, and I was really pondering to myself if I’m more a Haman, or more a Mordechai, because I honestly have no idea right now if I’m giving God what He really wants, or the opposite.

Everything seems so upside down at the moment.

I know it’s all exploding in madness everywhere you look, but it still seems to me that the best response to everything that’s going on right now (apart from making some serious teshuva, particularly in how we treat other people) is:

To bake cookies.

Yes, you read that right.

====

There is nothing better to do right now, apart from reciting lots of tehillim and doing lots of hitbodedut, except to bake cookies. Because until Hashem decides that the world really is ending, we parents have a duty to show our children that the world is still continuing in the meantime.

Already, our kids are struggling to stay in school. Already, they are struggling to get up in the mornings. Already, they are feeling like there is no point in continuing or carrying on, because the apocalypsa is around the corner, so what’s the point?

Honestly, don’t we grown ups feel that way too, so much of the time?

==

I’m not saying this lightly.

I’ve been waiting for geula, and trying to prepare for it in as real a way as I can for at least the last 15 years. But now that it looks like we may be coming down to the wire, and the geula really might be materializing before our eyes, increasingly the most important priority for me, as a mother, seems to be keep things as ‘normal’ as I can.

That means baking cookies. That means cleaning toilets. That means doing my best to look after my children, my family, my husband the best way I can right now.

I have my People Smarts Course that’s half done, and my People Smarts book that has been waiting six months to get sent to the printers already. For months, I haven’t been able to get to it.

Finally, last week, I realized that maybe, that’s not my main work right now.

My main work seems to be to look after my family – even tho my kids are 16 and 19 already – and to make my family my main priority.

So, I find myself making sandwiches and suppers in a way that I haven’t done for years, since they were much smaller. I find myself ferrying them around in the car – not least so I can have some quality time to really talk to them – and taking them to different places and appointments and people, because it seems like there is just so much going on, at the moment.

In some ways, it feels like my family, my responsibilities to these people who I live with, and care for tremendously, have kind of been ‘getting in the way’ of my life.

At least, that’s how it looked.

But today, I’m thinking more and more, this is actually my test, right now.

====

There is no better way of working on my bad middot and doing acts of kindnesses that really count than by focusing on the people in my home.

Rav Berland explained weeks ago that Corona has the same gematria as ‘mitvot bein adam l’havero’ – the mitzvahs that take place between people.

And nowhere are those mitzvahs more trampled – or more needed – than in the home.

And especially between parents and teens.

So, if you’re reading this, and you have a teen at home, and especially if you have a difficult teen at home who is struggling, stop reading this and go give them a hug. Go tell them that you think they’re amazing. Go and find something to praise about them, to their face, go make them a sandwich, take them out and get them a new top, or take them somewhere they’ve been bugging you to go for ages.

In short, go and love them unconditionally, with as much energy as you can muster.

Because that is the main test right now.

====

So many people are now being forced to spend 14 days cooped up with their families, with no distractions.

There’s no malls and chugim to run away to, no work deadlines, no shopping, no shiurim, no beaches and expensive holidays and restaurants.

All there is, is our raw family unit.

And that is the real test – does it feel like gehinnom or gan eden?

Is there love in the home, or constant arguments, guilt trips and withering criticism about all the things that aren’t being done 100% ‘perfectly’?

Are cookies being baked in that home, or not?

That is the question.

====

Photo by Ruth Reyer on Unsplash

====

You might also like this article:

4 replies
  1. Michal rus
    Michal rus says:

    Your words are just what I needed this morning.
    Thank you
    “ There is no better way of working on my bad middot and doing acts of kindnesses that really count than by focusing on the people in my home.”

    This is so important and seems like a key lesson we’re meant to learn from this pandemic/ isolation situation going on.

    Thank you for helping me keep focus.

    bezras Hashem May we bake lots of cookies for the arrival of Moshiach!

    Reply
  2. Yosef from the Galil
    Yosef from the Galil says:

    My big test is feeling like Chicken Little. Dad has “cried wolf” about geula before, so noone believes him now. Just a crazy old man to be ignored. Frankly, it is keeping my mouth shut about all of it.
    Shouldn’t we be preparing those around us? Letting them know that time really has almost run out? I don’t want my kids to come to me in shamayim and say “why didnt you warn us?”

    I did. But then I was made a liar by our tzadikim who pushed it off, out of sight with little evidence.

    or maybe I am just Chicken Little and in 200 years like the Rav said, my great great grandson will face the same question.

    Reply
    • Miriam
      Miriam says:

      I feel the same in many ways. If Moshiach doesn’t come soon, then I’ll be proven wrong and no one will believe me and what I have been trying to inspire others in believing. This is where I confront myself. Am I doing this for me (and my good feelings created if moshiach does come like I’ve been warning) or am I doing it for Hashem and everyone else? It shouldn’t bother me if I’m really doing it for Hashem as only He knows the best timing for everything and it will come about full circle when He plans it.

      I actually also find myself speaking about it less and less as I too doubt how soon this will all be finished as well as I can only do so much on my part. I say more and more tehillim and less doomsday prophesies now. I try to give more inspiration to be with simcha and emunah and use this virus to look inward and learn to love everyone.

      Rivka, you wrote exactly what I’ve been focusing on. I’m really trying to enjoy our family togetherness. Putting my heart into meals and speaking to my kids a lot more about them instead of all the busy things we always had to get done. We started to do lists where we can all take part in things getting done around the house. Little projects I never had time for. I don’t find them as important as I used to when I didn’t have the time as Moshiach coming now would make house improvements seem inconsequential but somehow, I’m finding them good bonding times with my family and just that in itself is worth it. Really anything is worth it, just use this special gift of time and closeness to be with your family without all the mad rush of the daily grind. It is easy to get annoyed with everyone sharing the same space now but that is a necessary challenge for this generation.

      Reply
    • Yosef from the Galil
      Yosef from the Galil says:

      Prayer and connection with the Tzadik provide all answers.
      In short, I was focusing on the wrong message. People are so caught up with “when” and “who”, and forgetting that the real issue is “us”. Moshiach is indeed here, yes, but he is waiting for US.
      THAT is the message. We don’t want to miss this opportunity to reveal him. If we do, it could be another generation before such an opportunity comes again.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.