Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Show Me Your Hand

I'm a coward.

I didn't look at the Itamar massacre pictures.

I understand that the family wanted to make these pictures public...wanted the world to see. And maybe I owe it to them and to the victims and to everyone else who risks their lives to live where they do, to look at the pictures. To understand the brutality and mourn along with them.

But I can't bring myself to do it.

I am heartbroken just hearing about it. I am so deeply shaken by the images in my mind. The three month old baby, stabbed in the heart, his hands curled into tiny fists. The twelve year old little girl, coming home to this horror. The trauma she will live with for the rest of her life. The parents and the innocent children, their throats slashed. The pain and grief of the surviving children.

Aren't we the wrong audience for these disturbing images? Shouldn't these pictures be seen by those who trust that there is some sort of heaven for the decapitation of a baby? For those who believe in sacrificing an innocent child to cure all the world's ills? For those who imagine that the slaughter of a tiny baby is a fitting punishment for...for anything?

When I was in school, we learned about what the world will be like when Moshiach comes, and what will happen before his arrival. We were taught about a climactic battle instigated by Gog and Magog, and even as a young child, that terrified me. Today, I understand that there is so much about this battle that we don't know. We do not know whether this battle will be a physical or spiritual battle, or even whether it has already occurred or not. But when something horrific happens...something I can't fathom...the old fears resurface. If these are the birthpangs of Moshiach, am I ready for him? Will I ever be?

Help me to make sense of this. Help me with my utter lack of understanding.

The hamantasch symbolizes the nature of the Purim miracle. The outside is just plain dough. The true flavor is concealed inside.

Our lives are the same. Sometimes it seems as though there is no system in place...no direction to this cold and harsh universe. Things happen that seem haphazard and random. But this is not true. There is a system. But it is hidden. Below the surface, there is a Hand and a Heart that directs the universe.

We do not get to see this Hand often. Purim is one day when it was shown...when we glimpsed what lies beyond the outer shell. Purim reminds us that nothing is random.

May we see open miracles...the Hand and the Heart...very soon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Separation Anxiety

My big girl looks up as I am leaving the house.

"You're wearing those shoes?"

I am. Obviously.

"You can't wear those," she tells me.

I look down at the offending shoes. They're nice. Really. But they're flat. Not the kind of flats I'd wear every day to work. They're dressy. And I'm pretty sure she never objected when I wore them to a Bar Mitzvah or a Shabbos kiddush.

"You can't wear flats to a wedding." She's adamant.

"But this isn't a fancy wedding," I explain. "And it's late. And I'm cold. And tired. I don't feel like wearing heels."

She's not convinced.

"Besides," I add, "I'm an old lady."

"Yeah," she says, "but no one knows that."

I change my shoes.

I wonder...what do people do when they are not blessed with daughters? What did I do before my daughter was old enough? Who else can be trusted to give an honest answer to, "Do I look fat in this"?

And, suddenly, a terrifying thought crosses my mind. What will I do when my daughter gets married? How will I be trusted with the daunting task of choosing my own clothes? How will I make difficult decisions like what color lipstick to wear or when it's ok to wear boots? Am I doomed to a life of nerdy sweaters and unsuitable footwear?

I'm not ready for my daughter to get married, I realize. I'm not ready for her to leave home!

Something must be done, and I am resolved to do it. I will be independent. I will learn to part with my live-in fashion consultant, and I will allow my daughter to marry.

I drive to the mall, putting my thoughts into action. I stride confidently from store to store. And then I see it. I try it on, scrutinize my reflection in the mirror, and I buy it. All by myself.

I pull the sweater out of the bag when I get home, and proudly show it to my daughter.

She doesn't like it. I can tell.

But it's ok. This will take some time, I know. I just need more practice. Soon...soon...I can let her date.

I wore the sweater to work last week, and when I got home, my daughter gave me the once-over.

"I like your sweater." She seemed completely oblivious to my bewilderment. "Do you think I can borrow it?"

"But you didn't like it when I bought it!" Could it be that I'd misinterpreted her reaction?

"Oh, I changed my mind," she said lightly.

Yes! I can do this! I can select my own clothes, and they will not be nerdy. I can determine when black tights season begins and ends. I can decide which dress is appropriate for any occasion. And maybe, after careful deliberation, I can figure out which shoes to wear. Myself.

And...my daughter can get married now. I am ready!