The Birthday Gifts I Got Today
I’ve been religious and living in Israel for 23 years now. But some things are hard to let go of.
Like making the switch from Jenny to Chana, which I did only last year. And like moving over from celebrating my December 29th birthday to the 11th of Tevet, which happened a few years ago.
But this year, something unusual took place. I celebrated my birthday twice because my parents were in Israel on December 29th, so we decided to make my family birthday party that day. Cake. Balloons. Presents. The works.
And today, the 11th of Tevet, I celebrated my birthday again. Just for me: a more spiritual, inward day to contemplate my life.
And today, my Hebrew birthday, Hashem sent me a few more presents…
I received the first gift last night, when I was listening to my USB collection of my favorite CDs, and out of the hundreds of songs on it, the one that came up was a song that my dear friend and learning partner, Efrat Razel, wrote for me for my 40th birthday 5 years ago. It’s about trusting in Hashem at really dark times, and she wrote it for me because at that time the darkness in our neighborhood felt so thick we couldn’t see any possible way out of it (click here to see that post from 5 years ago, with translated lyrics).
And what a gift to hear that song, and remember that darkness, while standing in our new home in our new neighborhood, where (even though I do miss many special, old, dear friends) my family feels so much safer and happier. Like a birthing woman who, after hours of nearly unbearable contractions, has her pain replaced suddenly and completely with the joy of a new life.
And another birthday present I received this birthday… Last night, after I heard that song, I went to the Kotel. And I davened like Henny Machlis used to (which I learned in the new book about her). Just like Henny, I praised Hashem for the impossibly intricate and beautiful world He created. And I thanked Him for all the blessings in my life (tears streaming down). And I asked Him for the things and help I need from Him. And I left the Kotel feeling so happy, like I had REALLY prayed, really connected. Not just read the words and gone home, wondering why it had felt so blah and flat again.
And another birthday present… Last night at the Kotel I was thinking about my Elul plan, the plan of yearly goals that all Rabbi Nivin students write up before every Rosh Hashana, and decided to make some changes. So this morning, I found the original file for my Elul plan on my computer, and made the changes, and printed it up again. And when I read my Elul plan over again, I noticed one goal at the end that looked unfamiliar. And I realized that for the last few months, I have been using an incomplete Elul plan which was missing the last line. And that last line was about how to make JewishMOM.com even more awesome! So, now that I’ve found it, get ready, JewishMOM;)…
And the final birthday present was that right before I sat down to write this post I realized that I forgot to put my 1st grader, Tsofia’s, lunch in her backpack. I thought I would have to run over to the school instead of writing this up… But when I called Tsofia’s teacher, she told me not to worry, she would take care of making her something to eat.
Which means I got to write up this birthday post for you JewishMOMs, and take this opportunity to bless you and your families with health, shalom bayit, parnasa, nachat, and a year full of good news and everything good!
And it means I have an opportunity to thank you, dear JewishMOM, for reading my writing all year long, and accompanying me through the ups and downs of my life. My virtual companion and valued friend.