I Didn’t Talk for 19 Hours, and then I Wrote this Poem

I Didn’t Talk for 19 Hours, and then I Wrote this Poem

Today is the 25th of Elul, the birthday of the world. But just as importantly (for Rabbi Nivin students like me at least) the 25th of Elul is the due date for my annual Elul plan, the blueprint for the year that every Rabbi Nivin student prepares every year before Rosh Hashana. For the last 10 years, my Elul plan has served as the foundation for my year, a map highlighting which roads I will travel that coming year and which I will leave for later or never. A list of my goals for the year, in every area of my life.
But this Elul I’m feeling an unusual lack of clarity. I’m feeling like I’m between stages. Between life purposes. Fallen between the cracks of my Elul Plan that scream out “fill me!”
This past Thursday-Friday I attended a silent meditation retreat for women in Rotem, an ecological community with a breathtaking view in the northern Jordan Valley. For 19 hours I didn’t say, read or write anything at all. I just sat silently, all the regular distractions of my life completely absent. And I was hoping to use those hours of silence and introspection to get in touch with myself, to achieve clarity about who I am and what I want to achieve this coming year.
At the end of those 19 hours of silence, we received a piece of paper to write down our reflections on what we’d seen and thought and heard (from our retreat leader, Rachel Dasa of Beerot), before we opened up our mouths and our words (as well as, yikes, our hard-won clarity?) spilled out… And this is what I wrote:
The Sun can rise while the moon is in the sky
One eye can be open, searching, while the other is closed, standing still
I can be a baby crying, wailing to no avail, at the same time I’m the mother who soothes, and knows “Shhh, everything will be all right, come here into my arms.”
No need right now, or ever, to choose, to cut, to make things black and white. It’s enough to walk through life with one eye open and one eye closed. Still and searching. Even if I never find, I can be found.


  1. i am also feeling “torn”, chana jenny. thank you so much for making it “okay” to live a life of limbo…

  2. Hashem values the struggle to get there more than reaching the destination. Lack of clarity is one of the main features of galus, that is why the Talmud Bavli is so complex questions and discussions and more questions. But we don’t let the questions keep us from moving forward

  3. Love it – beautifully expressed!

  4. Thank you for articulating this idea so beautifully, it is a great help to others including me,

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