The Nine Days are, for me, depressing, introspective, and frightening. I can almost feel a gasp of relief when Shabbos Nachamu comes; it is like a pent-up emotion, suddenly released, that I was only half-aware was there.
The news headlines don't really help much. With every story I read it is so clear how Hashem is tightening the vise of galus, trying to make us give up and turn to Him so He can finally redeem us. "Oh--the economic crisis wasn't enough for you? Iran's nuclear threat didn't do it? Okay, how about really serious anti-Semitism? No good? Okay, how about rabbonim being arrested so that the whole world will look askance upon Orthodox Jews. Does that hurt? Are you crying "uncle" yet?! No? Okay, how about in-fighting, Jew against Jew--even religious Jew against religious Jew, as in the case of the riots in Yerushalayim over the Hadassah case?" The noose of galus is pulled tighter and tighter, words like "another Holocaust" are bandied around with eery nonchalance.
Aside from the roiling cauldron of fear that dances and grows inside my heart, there's another emotion--I guess I could best describe it as somber self-introspection. It's the voice inside me that says, "You? What a joke! You're not doing enough! What are YOU doing to better your avodas Hashem? How do you ever expect Geulah if you don't get off your seat and start working some more spirituality into your life? What's with the lack of davening? What's with the lashon hara? What about being a good mother and wife? What about exalting Torah properly? How about tznius?!"
What about...what about..what about...ad infinitum. The accusatory finger wags and points and comes up with some pretty startling, downright shameful evidence. Woof.
So I rambled about it to my husband last night, railed against my horrible, less-than self, told him how far I feel and how there's no way that my actions are possibly bringing Geulah any time soon. And my husband--ever so wise!--pointed out something that I believe falls under the category of einfald (genius thought). I have to double-check with him about the source for this idea, but I will reveal it to you now, dear reader, in all its shining simple complexity, in the hopes that perhaps you, too, can benefit from its beauty. He said, "When you tell yourself you're a nothing, you're not very likely to be able to improve. When you tell yourself, instead, 'I am destined for greatness!', you're automatically on different footing. Surely, a person destined for greatness ought to be able to fit in a few small behavior changes each day, working toward a higher Self!"
That's it, folks. For today, I am a person destined for greatness, and all joking aside, it's true--simply because my soul is an immortal piece of G-dliness with magnificent, unlimited qualities. I think I will try to climb out of the doldrums of self-doubt and instead, do something constructive--like mumble a little tefillah. I mean, people destined for greatness do mumble tefillos, don't they?
How do YOU deal with the Nine Days and current world events?
In one of my millions of jobs, I write book descriptions for Feldheim Publishers' website, www.feldheim.com, which is neat because I get to review all new books that come through their doors. Well, this week I got my hands on a book that I think will create quite a revolution in the Jewish world, a book published by Targum Press (distributed by Feldheim) called 6 diaries. This is the brutally honest, unfiltered compilation of the weekly diaries of six teenagers recording their shifting thoughts on tznius, modesty. They come from different backgrounds, have different personalities, and the only thing they have in common is a willingness to explore this oft-confounding and complex topic.
If I had a quarter for everyone who asks me: "How do you find the time to write so much?" I'd be one rich little girl. Filthy rich, actually, because my standard response is, "I write during the times that most people are probably cleaning their houses." Gulp. Well, today I forayed into exactly that Windex-perfumed world, kicking and screaming, in the interest of impressing my wonderful mother who is coming tomorrow. (Vague snippets of teenage memories bounce around my head as I grab the mop, a dozen years later..."Riva--clean your room!" "How do you find anything in this pig-sty?!" Betcha can't relate.)
Well, I finally did it--bit the bullet, took the plunge, grabbed the bull by its horns, hmmm, let's see, can I possibly dig up any other cliched maxims to further augment the absolutely trivial announcement I'm about to make?
Growl, roar, there's a nasty monster loose in my life, running around, ferociously resisting all attempts at being tamed. Every day I try anew, and every day it runs circles around me, lashing out with merciless claws, leaving carnage, havoc, and destruction behind. I've consulted with exterminators, monster-tamers, and PETA, and no one seems to be able to help.
While I'm pretty transparent in my writing, I do try to protect my spouse and children from my penetrating pen, preferring to respect their privacy on some level. But tonight, my friends, you are about to be treated to a bit of inside information on...my wonderful husband, Joel. You may want to sit down for this :-)!
Well, it's official--the Green Fences book is out and available in stores and on the Targum website. See it on the Targum Press homepage at www.targum.com or go directly to this link: http://www.targum.com/product.php/938/green-fences/ where you can even read an excerpt. I am so excited! The book has new, juicy material--Ruth's private diary, which gives another dimension to the story that was not revealed in the Mishpacha serial.
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.