Gutte Vog everybody! Shabbos has just come out.
I was asked to speak on a panel of women, to a group of grade 8 (14yr olds) tonight. I speak 3-4 times a year to groups about how I became Frum.
There were three question posed to the panel, and we each had a chance to speak after each question. I was chosen to go first. So after my colorful embellishments, the next woman to speak – someone who has been Frum her whole life – said that she has had a very ordinary life, with nothing really bad happen to her – and sometimes you can just be normal, and know that Hashem loves you and is good to you.
Just in the way she spoke, and her absolute sincerity, I had immense admiration for her. Her love of Hashem and her Emunah ( faith) was infallible. Then, as more questions we asked, and our own stories unfolded a little, it tuned out that this woman had lost her brother to illness when she was younger, and now her mother is very ill. Now i just want to point out that she said there was nothing BAD in her life! I don’t know that if I were in her shoes, that I could see life like that! I don’t know that I would still have that same unquestioning love of G-d? Please, G-d may I never be in the situation to be tested.
Wait – and then – SHE turns to me, and says that I am such an inspiration to HER! How I had it all, and gave it up for a religious life. Well herein lies the big question. Who is more of an inspiration, and who deserves the accolades? believe me – it is not me.
It says in the Torah that a tzaddik – a completely righteous person, does not stand in the same place as a ba’al teshuva ( as someone who returned to following the practices and laws of their Judaism). This is taken to mean that because someone returned to their religion, they have more merit than even a righteous person.
Rav Dessler expounds on this comment, that what it means is that someone who is extremely righteous, and has given every moment of his life to serving G-d, is deserving of great reward in the world to come. How can someone who sinned their whole life, and the one day change to become religious, stand on a higher spiritual lever than this righteous person? Well, when someone becomes religious, after not being, G-d literally lifts them up to a high level ( ask most ba’al teshuva’s they will all say the time that they became Frum, this was a very tangible feeling). The righteous person will never feel that sensation, because he worked for every bit of merit and reward in his lifetime, whereas the BT probably had a very large test, that enabled them to make that giant leap over the secular fence.
I have been religious for 11 years now (wow!). I really enjoy relaying my story to people, and seeing their reactions. Afterwards though I always feel like a little bit of a fraud.
I have SUCH an incredible story! It is impossible not to see the hand of Hashem. Yes, I completely changed my ways. But – step into my home. I don’t feel I am the best role model as to impart Torah to my kids. I’d rip off this tichel ( scarf) at a moments notice, if I for one second thought it would be ok. I would throw on my old jeans, a pair of shorts – even a tank top – if I could ( ok, ok, maybe I wouldn’t – I’d look way too fat!)
We still have TV, I yell and scream ( I am really trying, and working on it). I am trying my best, but for the most part I look at these Frum from Birth mothers who have double the amount of kids I do, and seem to hold it all together, and still be pleasant. ( granted no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but I think they are the genuine article. The kids all seem to be fantastic.) Does this mean my kids will turn out ok?
Anyway – I look at this woman, who is admiring me, and I think to myself ‘ She is someone I need to be emulating. My going has not even been so tough, and yet I complain, and moan. She does not even see her tough as BAD, rather a sign of Hashem knows what is best for her, and she is doing what she can, never falling from the path. She is content with herself, and has an inner serenity that is palpable.
She inspires me. To grow spiritually, so that the physical limitations that I have regarding hair and dress, can be conquered. Who could be put to her tests , and come out strong and happy on the other side.
I am going to find the poem ‘footprints’ and i will post a link
Here it is: http://www.llerrah.com/footprints.htm