Sunday, October 8, 2017

Yaakov's Teshuva

12 Tishrei 5778.

"Yaakov, dear father, if you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?"

He sits for a long, long time. I marvel that he is really here with me, in my humble sukkah. He said a bracha over the tea I brought him, and actually tasted Celestial Seasons Bengal Spice. The incongruity of that, of the traversing of millennia involved, probably strikes me more than anything else about our remarkable morning so far. Before he speaks, a tear rolls down his cheek. I feel horrible, because I caused one of our Holy Avot to cry. As if reading my mind, he speaks reassuringly.

"Do not suppose that this is the first occasion over the centuries upon which I have been asked to contemplate this question." He smiles ironically. (I am in awe of reading an ironic smile on the face of someone from the Bible.) "You at least query kindly, without accusation.

"So I will present you with an answer. I have had many and long occasion to turn the question in my mind, as a leaf turns and frolics on a turbulent stream. Please forgive me if my answer seems to your ears like a lesson. It is for me a penance.

"If I could return to that place in time when I placed on the shoulders of my beloved son Yosef the beautiful coat of many-colored weaving, I would not do it. I would will my hand to lose its cunning before I would act thus, cherishing this child above his brothers, thinking it an innocent and seeming quiet act of profound love for his dear mother.

"Little could I know at that moment -- as God is my witness! -- what jealousy and pain and death would be given birth in the world through the threads of that cursed garment."

I look at him sadly, feeling such pain for him. I realize with new humility that this is not his first such visit. He must have come to Earth -- or must have been sent -- many times, to go through this process. For himself? I wonder. For the good of the world? We are still so divisive. We children still fight so jealously.

I try to give him a crumb of comfort as he sips the still steaming tea.

"Surely, you did not bring jealousy into the world. It started at least with Kayin and Hevel."

He looks at me with eyes both frightening and haunted. "I could have ended it."

I don't ask him any more. I know that he is right. I have spent my entire motherhood trying to correct the jealously and bitterness created in my siblings the day my stepfather drunkenly announced to all of us -- his stepdaughters and even to his own precious children -- that I was his favorite. How dare he? How dare he cause such pain, and certainly give me no pleasure, with that careless remark.

Again -- I sense that my father Yaakov reads my thoughts.

"I am here, this time, to tell you and your husband that you are making a tikun for that mistake. Not merely the mistake made in your own life by others. But in a very small way, your children are aiding in binding the hole in the fabric of our people, and thus the world. And thus in my heart, daughter."

He smiles... and he is gone. I look at the cup of tea. I take it in my hands, and hold it to my lips, and drink a bit, like a tender kiss.

"Thank you, Abba."

16 comments:

  1. So sweet Ruti....Indeed, you and Avi are doing many tikunim b'olam hazeh.

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    1. Thank you, lovely friend, for your encouragement!

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  2. All of our forefathers that we invite into our Succot are cherished guests and mentors. I ( and I am sure I am not alone) talk to them and to our Mothers all the time. I sometimes even take the very chtuzpadik step of trying to understand them, and their behavior, even if it is just a little bit. They were all on such a high level of closeness to Hashem. I yearn to be a part of that closeness. However my failings often hinder that goal, by looking at our Avot and Imahot, I remember that they were not only our Avot and Imahot, but human as well. As humans, we try, and sometimes we don't always get to the finish line. They remind us, no matter how hard, no matter our failings, to always keep trying.

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    1. Beautifully and sensitively said, Evey. I love that our Avot and Imahot taught us lessons with their lives, if we will only hear them.

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  3. That was very moving, Ruti. You've really got this writing thing....

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    1. From a writer such as yourself, dear Baila, that means a lot to me.

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  4. In its quiet way, quite powerful. Beautifully said.

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  5. As I get older, I seem to hear in my heart a silent and unarticulated prayer that my children forgive me for my errors of omission and commission as a parent. It is not a difficult stretch to project the same on our Avot and Imahot. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you for your appreciation of the effort, Nisan. I think our Imahot and Avot taught us to recognize when we err. The corpus of our Torah has taught us that it's okay to earn forgiveness, and to learn from our mistakes. And to forgive those who want forgiveness. Your children turned out marvelously -- so I think your errors were not too great. ;-)

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  6. AWESOME! REALLY,Ruti, ONE OF YOUR DEEPEST POSTS, I THINK. Thank you for the encouragement to talk to our Avot and Imahot (I don't think they would leave their wives at home...) when they come to our sukkahs!
    (What a burden you have had to live with - I guess you forgave your stepfather...)

    Wondering about you turning this into a play/drama of sorts for the talented women of your community to act out?
    Gut Moed and Gut Yom Tov!
    Warmly,
    Elka

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Elka! I miss our walks and talks. May this be your most joyful Simchas Torah EVER!

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  7. I really enjoyed that, Ruti! You have such a gift with words and visualizing feelings. I'm sure Yaakov is getting great nachat from you and all your accomplishments in life! Moadim L'Simcha dear friend.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely and supportive comments! Moadim lasimcha!

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