The Self-Made Orphan

The Self-Made Orphan

The man stood trial for the most horrific of crimes: the murder of his own father.

He was brought before the judge, rivers of tears flowing down his cheeks: “Your honor, please have mercy upon me. I am an orphan!”

“What are you talking about?” the judge rebuked him. “You are an orphan because you killed your father!”

That self-made orphan, Rabbi Pincus explains, is every one of us.

I often pass Shayna in the mornings when I am walking Tsofia to gan and she is on her way home from dropping off her kids at the bus stop.

“Mornings are so hectic. I go to sleep too late and have to wake up so early. I am tired the whole day long!” Shayna complained.

I pointed out to her that her with a smile that her name in Hebrew means “sleep” and suggested, “Maybe you could take a nap after you drop off your kids in the morning? When I’m tired, I lie down to rest,” I told her.

“Oh yeah, you are so good at taking care of yourself. But we’re not supposed to sleep away our lives!”

Another self-made orphan.
Every morning for years, the hands-down worst hours of my day were between 6:30 and 9 AM. I went to sleep so late that during those hours I would feel grouchy and hopeless and EXHAUSTED.

I would wake up at 6:30, send my older kids off to school at 7:10, and take my kids to gan at 8:15. Usually I ran an errand or chatted with a neighbor on the way home, which meant I would arrive home around 9 AM at which point I would collapse on the sofa to rest for half an hour.

But for the past few months I’ve had a different plan. I wake up my older kids at 6:30, and then immediately go back to bed until 7 AM. Then I send off my older kids to school, and rest on the sofa from 7:30 to 8 while my younger children eat breakfast and play. It means my kids get to gan closer to 9 AM. But with this method I nearly completely cut out the grouchy, hopeless, exhausted hours of my day. And this late-start approach means I get my day started at 9 AM rather than 9:30!

A self-made orphan no longer.

We are all self-made orphans. But no worries. We’ve got a new year starting next week…And all it takes is a bit of brainstorming and dedication to resurrect your deceased father and make your life better in 5754, IY”H.

photo credit: ||-SAM Nasim-|| via photopin cc


  1. I wish I could take a nap during the day! I wake up at 5:30am so my husband and I can get ourselves and our daughter ready for the day. We leave the house by 7:30am so my daughter can get to school and we can get to work on time. I would love for my day to start at 9am.

  2. Chana Jenny, this is the part where you mention about writing down ten ways to make your life better. That was written in your book, which I read a gazillion years ago – but it’s something I will never forget!

  3. If only my children would eat breakfast and play so sweetly that I could rest…. I am like shayna: but I resent being called a self-made orphan: I don’t want to sleep away the only time I have that is peaceful, free and to get things done. I haven’t found the right solution yet and maybe I do have to change my mindset, but still, it rubbed a bit too much salt in my wounds.

    • you’re right yehudit, I am sorry…My secret is that my boyish boy Yoel just started first grade so he is out of the house by 7:10! When he was around in the mornings I also couldn’t rest.

      I should clarify: even though the two examples I give in this article are about sleeping in the morning, the point I was trying the make (obviously quite poorly…) was not that all women should sleep in the morning (since obviously many women can’t). What I meant to say was that all of us have broken, frustrating, difficult aspects of our lives that we very well might be able to fix if we tried.

  4. I’m sorry right back: clearly I hadn’t had enough sleep before the chag and was feeling too grouchy about it…. 😉
    You made your point beautifully.

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