Saturday, September 7, 2013

meaningful Rosh HaShana

a fish names gefilte
I spoke too soon about waiting for next year to have a meaningful Yamim Noraim ( Days of Awe).

We went to shul, but not our regular shul. Our regular shul does not have babysitting for all ages and for the whole service, so we go to the other shul. 9 yo was unhappy to be missing his regular shabbos groups, but he did not seem interested to be in shul either. I got all the kids for shofar and then they went back to babysitting. Later I found out that 9 yo snuk out, because he was telling me about seeing people bow down on the floor for Aleinu.

I am always berating myself for not producing enough rich and meaningful experiences on Shabbos and chagim. Being a baalat teshuva, I have this nagging feeling that if only I knew how to capture that spirit, that moment, that opportunity for growth and spirituality, my kids would want to enjoy shabbos and yom tov more. I fret a lot about losing that yom tov feeling, not being in a zone and how that affects my kids. Then we'll have some sort of experience and I see that, somehow, we've still got it.

Yesterday morning, seemingly out of the blue, 9 yo asked me to forgive him for all that he has done wrong. It seemed very sincere, so I dropped everything, walked over to him, hugged him and said that I forgive him. I apologized to him for yelling at him so much, and he forgave me. It was a very sweet moment, almost Hallmark-y. Seeing this, 7 yo got agitated and said that he does not feel like it's Rosh HaShana and he does not know how to daven and he cannot daven. I think he was not ready to ask for forgiveness, or the need to ask for forgiveness did not hit him the same way, but he had hard time expressing it.

Later, when Shabbos already started, somehow the calendar discussion came up. This year, just by looking at the wall calendar, 7 yo figured out that Rosh HaShana is on rosh chodesh, and he's getting a really big kick out of it. Then we started talking about the days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur and somehow the conversation segued into what it takes to do teshuva (to repent). I started going over the steps and asked for an example of a sin. 7 yo piped in: "You bought an etrog from a bad city". I guess he was listening closely to his brother's mishna lesson! We tried coming up with a more pertinent example, but the boys were running wild with worshiping idols or killing people or other, quite severe and inapplicable actions. My husband suggested hitting your brother, which hit a bit too close to home, as 9 yo asked not to use the word "you" in an example. We settled on a kid ice skating and tripping other people up, just for fun.

Finally I thought we got to the steps. I said that first you have to realize that you are sinning, then you need to stop sinning, then you have to apologize to people whom you've tripped up (people that you caused to die came up AGAIN, the gruesomeness factor is just off the charts) and then you have to say viduy (personal verbal confession). 9 yo wanted to find out what you say in that confession, so I opened up a linear machzor and showed him. He read it with great interest and kept on reading, but after a page he wanted to know where is the end. I explained how viduy contains all possible ways in which people could be sinning and that's why it is so long, to jog your memory to anything specific.

7 yo kept talking about the scales before Hashem and how he hopes that his scales tip crazily towards merit. 9 yo wanted to know whether it is better to do one mitzvah, or to remove an aveirah. In this manner, sometimes solemn, sometimes silly, but totally spontaneous, we established the spirit of Yamim Noraim.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you and the kids found their meaning. I love it.