This is the question and the challenge of the post-holiday season in which we now stand. The holiday rich month of Tishrei is a time of spiritual saturation. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah were meant to lift us on their wings and help us reconnect to our higher calling and access the deepest recesses of our soul.
But then comes the day after, when the “ride” is over. As we land (hopefully smoothly) from the soaring flight of Tishrei the great dilemma presents itself: will we—and how can we—gain the power to hold on to the inspiration? Inspiration is relatively easy; maintaining it is the difficult task.
Beginning from before Rosh Hashana this column has been addressing the “inner child”(and the “outer child” as well) – the purest part of each soul. Prior to Rosh Hashana, in Give Me Your Soul, we suggested an exercise to validate and empower every child. On Yom Kippur we connected with our innocence – our “Inner Child.”On Sukkot we hugged the child in a warm, all encompassing embrace (My Dear Child), and on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah we wrote our child Let Us Not Part.
Here is the next entry in this series, Letters To My Child, written following the holiday season, as we reenter our daily routines.
My dearest child,
Now that we have concluded the holiday season, including the last day which we spent alone together, dancing and celebrating, you are no doubt wondering, and maybe even trembling over the fact that we now have to inevitably part ways. Does this mean that you, my child, will have to return to your lonely world? And what was the point of spending one more day together; it just pushed off the inevitable parting for one day?!
Let me tell you my child what I am feeling. Let us reread Rashi’s parable about the last day of the holiday we spent together (Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah): There was once a king who invited his children for a banquet of several days. When it came time for them to go, he said to them: “My children, please, stay with me one more day – your parting is difficult for me…”
The king does not say “our parting is difficult for me.” He says “your parting is difficult for me.” Why? Because He never parts from us; we part from Him. We always remain connected with our soul – and I always remain one with you, my child. However, we live in a coarse world in which G-d concealed the Divine presence, the presence of the soul and the presence of the pure child. On a conscious level we feel like we are “parting” ways. But they our only “your parting,” how you, humans feel, not “our parting.”
He did this in order to allow us the ultimate accomplishment: To overcome the concealment and reveal the inner truth that we are not apart, but all one.
But since “your parting is difficult for me” we are given an extra day to connect in the most intimate and powerful manner, which empowers us for the rest of the year. As we leave the spiritually saturated holiday season, and move from the warmth of summer to the cold of winter, traveling through difficult “dusty roads,” we rejoice together for one more day (See Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 7:4).
But this is not meant to remain one day of retention. Its’ purpose is to motivate us to carry and spread its unifying energy throughout the entire year. And we do so, by recognizing the challenge and difficulty of “your parting” and taking powerful measures to counter its effects.
Here is what I will do, my child. I too know that the year’s journey will be difficult. Life is so hard and challenging. My daily struggle for survival and all the material distractions of the world around me are so powerfully seductive. They cause me to forget about what really matters. And you – my child – is what really matters.
But I have also been taught that we are not doomed to this amnesia. This precise challenge is the entire purpose of our lives: to now allow the means of our existence to cloud the ends. Even as we are immersed with our physical existence and struggle for survival, we must never forget our souls. We cannot allow ourselves to be so selfishly consumed with our immediate needs that we forget our inner lives. Furthermore, my mission is to transform the material into the spiritual. To reveal the Divine even in the most concealed places. To allow you, my child, to emerge from your hiding place.
So you see, I now understand that your concealing yourself is very much part of the entire concealment of everything holy and pure in this corrupt world. The best and the finest hide to protect themselves from the narcissism and greed of an adult world driven by self-interest.
Here is my pledge to you, my beloved child: I will do everything possible to connect with you and protect you. Every morning we will say together “Modeh Ani,” and we will together acknowledge the soul that was returned to me, so tender and pure (“neshomo she’nosato bi tehorah hi”), and how the soul gets clothed in layers upon layers (“boroso,” “yotzarto,” “nofachto bi”), until it is completely shrouded in the physical body. But even then it is Divinely protected (“v’atoh meshamro b’kirbi”).
I know that you, my child, don’t trust sporadic spurts of attention, only when crisis strikes. You want and need ongoing care and nurturing. I therefore will commit, on a daily basis, to sublime activities that keep me in touch with my soul and with you, my child.
Each day I will rebuild the three pillars upon which the world – and our inner world – stands: Study, prayer and good deeds. I will emote with you as I say my daily prayers. Every day I will designate time for spiritual study and acts of virtue. I will give charity daily and reach out to people to offer assistance in any way I can. In short, I will create space in my everyday life for my soul to express itself, by committing to a consistent routine of spiritual activities.
I will do everything in my power to ensure that you, my child, are nourished. But I need you to do everything in your power as well. Please don’t run away and hide from me. I need your help as much as you need mine. I need your sense of enchantment and adventure. I need your hope and optimism. I need your bubbly excitement over things that I have long forgotten. Above all, I need your dreams, your aspirations and your belief that everything is possible.
And should I at times forget and neglect you, please remind me. Don’t give up on me. Kick me in the pants, cry and make me aware, kick and scream, wake me up. Do anything but never be silent.
I never want to part with you again.
With the deepest love,