March 2019


I was up late last night dealing with lots of important yet boring and irritating stuff. And I went to sleep in a really crummy mood.

But G-d bless mornings!

When evening’s grumbling is replaced by “Modah Ani” and the miraculous potential of a brand new day!

But this morning wasn’t actually a morning like that…

This was a morning that I woke up feeling as depressed about my existence as I had been the night before.

So, like every weekday morning, I got my kids up and ready and out. And then I looked at my calendar and remembered that in a few hours I would be attending Yaakov’s siddur party with Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tsfat.

And that, despite my funk, made me smile.

Because I’ve seen Rav Shmuel a bunch of times, at various events and classes, and the most striking thing about him, at least for me, is his amazing, unwavering smile. He always looks SO HAPPY!

And that’s a total mystery to me. Especially since Rav Shmuel Eliyahu is a major public figure here in Israel, and he must face ongoing pressures and stresses and disappointments–both personal and public.

And while I was considering this mystery, my phone twinkled with my daily text from Sivan Rahav Meir.

And when I read it, I realized it provided the explanation for Rav Shmuel’s mystifying smile…

Last week, Sivan visited my hometown of Baltimore, and she had the honor of meeting with Ner Yisroel Rosh Yeshiva, 87-year-old Rabbi Aharon Feldman.

“During our meeting,” she wrote, “I asked what, in his opinion, is the most important educational message our generation needs to hear. And this was his answer:

“A human being’s greatest enemy is the inner voice which says: You, and you alone, are in the center…This is something with which every person must do battle.

“People must know that they are part of something bigger. They need faith, ideals…

“Human beings were not created for their own sake, and sometimes it is hard for people to grasp that fact.

“People might act solely in accordance with their desires…but people become human and noble when they succeed in devoting themselves to other interests beyond their own self-gratification.

“This is our ongoing struggle over the definition of what it means to be truly human.”

Oy, did I need to hear that.

There is more to life than just me me me. And that isn’t something that comes naturally to me (me me).

I’m almost always thinking about myself and what I want and what I feel. Taking my emotional pulse constantly.

So, I decided this morning to spend some time translating what Sivan had sent, from Hebrew into English, so I could more fully absorb this message that is so distant from how I actually currently function. And then I spent some more time tweaking my translation, here and there. And something amazing and completely counter-intuitive happened.

After a morning spent with the message that my happiness isn’t the center of the universe, I felt much, much happier.


Mazel & Mishagoss

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