My 10-Ton Backpack

My 10-Ton Backpack

This week I threw off my 10-ton backpack.

In other words, I went on a vacation. All by myself.

For 36 hours I did not wipe a little nose. For 36 hours I did not break up a fight. For 36 hours I did not wash a dish.

For 36 hours I only had 3 people to take care of.
1. Me
2. Myself
3. I

Like over 6000 other Israeli religious mothers, this week I left behind my family in order to attend the annual Binyan Shalem conference. What is Binyan Shalem? It’s like a 3-day long Mommy Peptalk.

So, during the classes I attended every day from 9 AM to 10 PM, I was learning about how inspirational and important and holy being a Jewish mother really is.

But the truth is that…as much as I was enjoying being on the receiving end of a mommy peptalk for once, I was enjoying even more how incredibly, phenomenally GOOD it felt to have that 10-ton backpack off my aching shoulders for those 36 hours.

Nobody to take care of. Nobody to feed. Nobody to discipline. Nobody to clean up after. Nobody doing anything that required ANYTHING of me whatsoever.

Oh, how sweet it was…

And the sweetest part of those 36 backpack-less hours, I think, was the morning. How I rolled out of bed, and instead of the usual hour and a half it takes me to get me and my kids out the door in the morning, it took me only twelve minutes to get dressed and out the door for a long, luxurious early morning walk.

And on that walk, I passed dozens of children standing alongside their tired mothers waiting and waiting for the camp bus to come to pick them up.

What a relief, I thought, to have gone AWOL from that JewishMOM army for two days. What a relief, I thought, to have left my own 10-ton JewishMOM backpack at home.

But then I started feeling panicky. That very evening, I remembered, I would be reenlisting. You’re in the army now, JewishMOM! And then, and then, I would have to place that 10-ton backpack over my aching shoulders yet again.

And how did I feel about that?

I felt like this:


So, feeling very nervous about how I would possibly manage when I returned home that night, I kept on walking until I reached the side of a green, vast wadi overlooking Ramot.

And I started praying. Praying with all my heart that Hashem would help me to return to my family with joy. Praying that the inspiring words I was hearing all day would inspire me too. Somehow.

And I looked up at the sky, and I saw a bird flying above me.

And I remembered a story I once heard about the first bird that ever was. And I began to cry.

That first bird, I once heard, turned to Hashem in fear and said, “I have no teeth or horns or claws to defend myself against all the fierce animals in the Garden of Eden. I am never going to survive!”

So Hashem told the bird, “Fear not, dear bird. I will give you wings.”

So the bird felt the weight of the wings. And they felt heavier than a 10-ton backpack. And he screamed out yet again to Hashem, “G-d, what have You done to me! Now I am so weighed down, I can barely move! I will surely be eaten alive this very day by the bears and tigers and hyenas surrounding me!”

And Hashem explained, “No, my dear bird. These wings are not meant to weigh you down….

“I have given you these wings so that you can fly!”

“Please G-d, please G-d,” I prayed yesterday by the wadi, looking up at that bird over my head, choked up with fear…and yearning.

“Please help me to use these wings, these 10-ton wings you have blessed me with in order to fly…”

“…higher and higher. To You.”

Photo courtesy of user Elwin Schmitz


  1. like most of us, i daven for specific things every day. once in a while, i feel a surge of great need, a groundswell of emotion that leads me to a similar davening, when i drop my specific requests and just call out to Hashem: “just give me strength!”
    somehow, that covers all bases.

  2. I totally need that 36 hour AWOL…SO BAD…Only you can understand how bad…I cant even hear, think or see straight by 9pm…Do they have a weekend rather than a midweek confrence?

  3. Vacations are important. I don’t underestimate that. however, for a mother, they are also hard to come by. you need patience. for example, me! I waited a long time to go away all by myself for a few days. Thirty-two years to be exact. My oldest is now 32. My youngest is 15 and in overnight camp. So I went away all by myself (my dear husband understood) for one solid week. It’s been sublime. Today is the last day. I feel like I waited 32 years for this week. G-d willing I’ll do it again next summer when my youngest goes to camp again. I encourage you to do the same if you can – and if you can’t yet, I promise you the day will come, in good health, with Hashem’s help.

    • where did you go and what did you do?

    • Here I am, getting my “alone time vacation”. I get 20 minutes to sit with the computer with the doors closed. yay!

  4. glad you were able to get away a bit .

  5. please send me details offline for next time.. it sounds divine!

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