My Henny Machlis Grave Miracle
Last week I finished reading Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup. I don’t remember the last time I felt so sad to read the last page of a book. I guess because even though I didn’t know Henny well during her lifetime, through the book about her I felt like I got really close to her, like she became my friend and rebbetzin.
So the next morning, not wanting to let her go, I walked over to the Sanhedria cemetery where Henny was buried. In general, the graves of tsadikim are my favorite places to daven. But Henny’s kever, for me, had a whole different vibe. Cause Henny wasn’t only a tsaddekes; she was so real, so down to earth, coping with the same JewishMOM struggles as we do. When I go to most kivrei tsadikim, I read psalms and light a candle and make some requests. But at Henny’s kever, I felt like I could really pour out my heart. Cause she’d been there too.
After I was done davening at Henny’s kever, I did something unusual. Last week I started a new 20-week course with Dina Friedman called the Power Series about living the life of our dreams. And the first exercise for the course was to look at different aspects of our lives and write up our ideal vision for each one, the way we wish our life would be. Like me, Henny took loads of personal development courses, so I felt like her grave was the perfect place to do this. It’s exactly the kind of thing she would have loved doing.
Here’s a taste of a few things I wrote by Henny’s kever:
First, some background. Over the past few months, I haven’t been connecting with Hashem so much in my daily life. Henny’s biography made it clear to me how much I want to change that, so I wrote:
Spirituality—As I go about my life, I feel the warmth of Hashem’s presence and His love for me. His presence is so real that I often feel a spontaneous desire to communicate with Him as I go about my daily life. And when I turn to Him, I am frequently in awe from the wonders that occur. Maybe that’s why prayer feels so real and powerful to me, and why I love to pray so much.
You probably all remember my post about my miserable afternoons. So, in hopes of upgrading them, I wrote:
Emotional—Spending time with my children in the afternoon is one of the highlights of my day. I love the feeling of being home with my children, all of us enjoying each other. In a few years, my children will be grown, so I so deeply appreciate this present, precious opportunity to enjoy my young children which will be over all too soon. The sweetness of the time I spend with them is sometimes overwhelming. When bedtime comes, I feel energized by the wonderful and even magical time we spent together that day. [CJW reality check: Yeah,right!]
And another thing I wrote up by Henny’s kever was about my social life. Some background. When I moved to Kiryat Moshe a year and half ago, I met so many new, inspiring JewishMOMs here. But the truth is that I lived in Nachlaot for 20 years, and over all those years a bunch of the women there became more like sisters than friends, and I miss them. At the same time, you probably remember that we left Nachlaot for a really horrific reason, and because of that reason there are many Nachlaot residents I would love to never see ever again! So I almost never go back to visit. With all these love/hate considerations in mind, here’s what I wrote:
Social–B”H, I stay in touch with some old friends from Nachlaot from time to time. I feel like I have found a perfect balance between adjusting to my new neighborhood while maintaining a few valued friendships from Nachlaot.
But to tell you the truth, out of all the life dreams I wrote up, this one felt the most impossible. How could I stay in touch with old friends if I never want to go back to the neighborhood?
As I left the cemetery, and headed for the bus stop, my mind wandered back to my old teacher, Rabbanit Talia, who lives near the cemetery. When my big kids were small, I attended her weekly class in Nachlaot for several years, and she really changed my life. I even dedicated one of my books to her. I thought how nice it would be to stop by to see Rabbanit Talia, since I hadn’t seen her in over a decade. But that would be, like, too weird to just show up out of the blue after all this time.
The next day, I was speaking with my learning partner, Efrat, the only person from Nachlaot I’ve stayed in touch with on a regular basis since we moved. She told me she really wanted me to stop by her house to see something. I knew I didn’t want to go to Nachlaot, but for Efrat? Of course.
So this week, one morning I asked Efrat if I could stop by. And she, in response, told me she was going to a new class that morning that her sister-in-law is hosting. The teacher? Rabbanit Talia.
All of a sudden, I felt so excited. What a perfect opportunity–to see Rabbanit Talia, to see old friends from Nachlaot at a house on the edge of the neighborhood so I wouldn’t have to bump into the people I don’t want to bump into.
When Efrat told me about the class, it was only 5 minutes before it was supposed to start. So I went to the corner to wait for a taxi. And who was driving by that moment? Yet another sister-in-law of the woman hosting the class. She was on her way to Nachlaot, and left me off next door to the class. I arrived even before Rabbanit Talia did.
And the subject of the class? Was about infusing our mothering lives (and miserable afternoons) with more joy. I can’t wait to hear more next week, and the week after, and the week after IY”H.
I left Nachlaot on a high that morning. I had written out my dreams, and Hashem had answered them one by one. And there was something so perfect in how it all worked out– how I had wanted to see Rabbanit Talia, and how her class provided the answer to my prayers on various levels–seeing old friends, getting reinspired in my mothering life…
And somehow I felt Henny’s hand, with Hashem’s help, was a part of all this.
I felt Rebbetzin Henny smiling down on me and saying, “You see! You thought it was impossible, but Hashem can do aaaaaanything. I love you, Chana Jenny. And I’ll share a secret with you, Hashem does too.”