My Failures this Year

My Failures this Year

In preparation for the new year, Rabbi Nivin suggested we write up 50 personal successes from this past year. I wrote up my successes a few weeks ago, and then read them over this past Shabbat. B”H this year I made meaningful headway on all sorts of personal goals: the healing of a strained relationship with a child, successfully assisting in kicking off our new family business, deepening my understanding of and connection with my prayers.

Reading over those successes I felt a sense of surprise as well as unusual satisfaction. Until I looked at the goals I wrote up a year ago, last Elul, for my children. The child I’d hoped would get married this year did not. The child I’d hoped would start keeping Shabbat again did not. The child I had hoped would get into university did not.

And when I read over those unrealized goals, all the 50 successes felt like a mole-hill next to an unscalable mountain. I had prayed for all of these things countless times. But Hashem had ignored all my prayers all-year-long.

On Shabbat I read a beautiful article in Ami Magazine, and one line about the author’s own unanswered prayers helped me to reframe my own. The author, teacher Hadassa Cohen, has been married for 20 years without children.

When people meet her, and see she is married and of a certain age, they assume Hadassa Cohen has a house full of kids. A students’ mothers will say something like, “I’m sorry that my daughter has been coming late to school, but I’m sure you know from your own kids how tough it can be to get them out of the house in the morning!”

For years, Hadassa writes, she would go along with the charade. It was just too uncomfortable to correct everyone’s mistaken assumption.
“But every time,” Hadassa shares, “I let the truth slide or I lied outright, there was a new pain: the pain of not being true to myself. I knew that my life is handcrafted by Hashem; for whatever reason, this was my lot. I did not need to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
“This is what I was meant to pray for; it was the way Hashem got my attention, every single day.”

This final sentence opened my eyes. It reminded me that my unanswered prayers don’t mean that Hashem is ignoring me. In fact, the opposite is true. By putting various rotating troubles into my life, Hashem wants “to get my attention,” for me to be and stay connected with Him, every single day.


  1. Thank you for being so real with us. May Hashem bless you with a sweet new year with all your prayers answered l’tova!

  2. Chana jenny

    Amen thank you!

  3. I like this one

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email