Summer is still very much in the air. The temperature is warm, we are still on a crazy schedule crazy schedule of no sleep, and we take a look at the calendar and do a double take.
Really?!? Elul is almost over?!? Can Rosh Hashana be that close to NOW?
We have just come out of half a year of Covid. We are depleted and drained from having our lives turn upside down. We are just starting to get back into a normal routine of work and school. And then, before we blink, Yom Tov is here.
Anxiety and stress build up in our minds and hearts. These feelings, these reactions turn to fear and sometimes even dread. Not only are we panicking, but we then begin to torture ourselves for feeling this way. “How can a good Jewish women feel dread for Yom Tov?!?
We are supposed to be spiritual, growing Yidden, we are supposed to be preparing Yom Tov with excitement, we are supposed to be working on teshuva and shleimus and devekus. We are supposed to be …. etc. And so the old negative messages start playing over and over again in our brain and we get more down and more depressed by those heavy feelings of GUILT.
So here at Yad Rachel we understand.
Let us help you by making sure you know that those feelings are NORMAL.
And way more common than you think.
It may be contrary to what magazines articles are saying, contrary to what your neighbor the Rebbetzin is saying when she gives her weekly shiur to your development, contrary to what you hear from so many around you, contrary to those snippets of seminary lessons that are embedded in your memory. The truth is many women feel stressed and struggle with feeling inspired.
But why? What is causing all this inability to feel the specialness of the upcoming Yomim Tovim? What is causing these feelings of melancholy?
It’s common because we are so overwhelmed by daily routine and responsibilities.
And… we are not our usual selves because we have a mood disorder that craves to be treated with routine and quiet.
And… we are scared of the calendar, the thought of cooking gazillion meals.
And… we are getting dizzy at all the packing we have to do in order to move into the in laws.
And… we are exhausted thinking about how the kids will be home for a month straight with no respite.
Our reality is REAL. And so the stress is REAL. And no one can judge you for feeling this way.
If a friend came to you, crying that her life is hard. What would you say? Chances are you would empathize, validate and listen without judgement.
Now .. why can’t we respond to our own feelings with the same compassion?
Why are we so harsh?
Let’s… try something new. Let’s try to be kind to ourselves when we feel guilty for negative feelings.
Let’s…. act with the same love and acceptance that we would share so generously with our friends.
Let’s… stop beating ourselves up with a baseball bat and take out a nice soft feather to “condone “ourselves with. Even if we don’t feel it.
Let’s… fake it. Let’s pretend and look at ourselves in the mirror and say, I can totally understand why you feel that way. Life is so hard and your barely able to stay above water. I totally hear you and feel your pain.
Hashem loves us you unconditionally. No matter what we do or we don’t do.
He loves us no matter if our snoods are askew on our heads, and if the laundry is in piles unfolded.
He loves you even if you gave your kids cold cereal for supper or if you heated up frozen pizza for your husband.
He loves you even if you are crying and sad and down.
He loves you even when you raised your voice to your mother on the phone.
He loves you even if you are hard on yourself.
He loves you even though you feel disconnected and even angry at Him.
He loves you so much, AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
So if that’s the case. Hashem will love you even if the most you can do this holiday season in honor of Yom Tov is buy a few green and red apples. Hashem will love you even if you buy store bought honey cake. Hashem will love you unconditionally even if all you can manage is using paper and plastic to set your table.
Maybe make a list. Either in your mind, in a journal, or on a random piece of paper.
Start off each sentence – Hashem still loves me even if …
You don’t have the time? No problem. When you feel yourself filled with self- loathing or with guilt. In a random moment. Stop and say it.
Hashem still loves me even if…
Making the effort, even if we don’t internalize it, is true Avodas Hashem.
If we TRY To believe this.
If we TRY accept this.
Even just a tiny teeny bit.
This is climbing higher. This is accepting Hashem’s love. This is true spiritual growth.
This Elul, remember that Hashem wants you to take care of yourself. To heal yourself. Your number one priority is self-care. That is your challenge today. Try to do what it takes to make that possible. Cut corners, keep things simple, don’t overwork. Buy some dishes, don’t make dessert. Don’t pressure yourself to buy all the children their entire wardrobe by Friday. You have an entire season to attend to that. The stores will all be open after Rosh Hashana. Your family won’t starve if you serve basic Shabbos food. And most importantly, your tafkid today is to heal from a mood disorder. There will be other years IYH to daven all day and attend shiurim. Please try not to place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Whatever you manage to do in regards to shul and davening, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for accomplishing just that. Remember, all that matters is that you take care of yourself as best as possible.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, sweet and serene year!