Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dear G-d. A Humble Petition for Reconcilation.

Yom rishon, 28 Kislev 5771.

Dear G-d,

I fully accept that we are responsible for the lack of rain in Israel, and for the subsequent disaster wrought by the fire in the Carmel.

We Jewish people have failed in some way -- many ways -- to keep our part of the bargain with You.  We have made many mistakes.  Small errors and large and terrible errors.

But I think I am not alone in feeling helpless to fix the problems between us, between You and me, without clearer guidance.

I once knew a fellow who told me the story of his very unhappy marriage.  He told me he had married a girl who was much too good for him.  They had married young, when he lacked knowledge about how to run a successful relationship.  (The fact was that he hadn't even seen a good relationship growing up.)  He had treated her shabbily and carelessly for the first several years of their marriage.

Then he "got religion."  He learned and developed as a person; and in the course of his learning, he became ashamed of how he had treated his wife.  He begged her forgiveness, and vowed to improve.  She forgave him; and things improved for a time.

Then, little by little, she again began to withdraw from him.  He would try to do small kindnesses for her.  He brought flowers to try to appease her.  He would ask her what he had done -- and she would tell him that "he should know."  After all, they had discussed during their reconciliation all of the little actions and big commitments it takes to make a relationship work.  She gave him little hints periodically, and turned away even more when he failed to pick up on them.
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But he remained perplexed.  He knew that he was still not the perfect husband.  But which (or how many) of his small errors had weakened their relationship this time?

As time went by, he stopped asking for particulars, as she really felt he ought to have learned enough by now to not need her detailed guidance.  Eventually, he stopped asking, and just accepted the situation of their cooled relationship.  When I met him, he wore a perpetual expression of being lost.  I had no advice for him, as I also could not read her mind.

Hashem, we are like that man.  Every year, we try to "make up" with You.  We cry, and apologize from our hearts for all of our little carelessnesses and big transgressions in our relationship.  But as time goes by, there is still no rain, there are still terrible illness and disaster.  Our Sages -- ancient and modern -- exhort us to look over the requirements You have clearly outlined, to pay attention to the hints You are sending us.  If only we would walk in Your ways...  there would be rain in its time, and grass for our cattle.  Our enemies would be subdued...

But I must admit to being as perplexed as my old friend.

We know that we are "messing up."  We want to repair the damage.  Our rabbis are calling for days of prayer and fasting, to increase our observance of Your commandments.  Groups gather at the Kotel to beseech You to end the drought.  Every day, I receive new emails reminding me to add more Tehillim (recitation of King David's Psalms) and give more charity in order to help end the distance between You and us.

But instead, the situation seems to be getting worse.
Photo credit: San Francisco Sentinel

Like my friend, I don't for a moment think that You are the guilty party.  I know my weaknesses and my faults.  But I cannot determine which of my failings has caused this terrible distance between us.  I fear that we may be drifting into a loveless marriage that I will be unable to repair.

Please, Hashem!  Help this poor orphan Nation!  Give us clear guidance.  We are trying to "bring flowers," to do small kindnesses to help each other, to improve our speech, to give more charity, to house those whose homes were destroyed in the greatest disaster in Israel's history.  We know in our heart of hearts that our efforts are not large enough compensation for our errors.  But we really do want to repair our relationship with You!  For the best of reasons -- to bring the Geula Shelaima (the complete redemption), and for the most mundane -- to avoid what appears to be the decree of impending drought, famine, and who knows what else, G-d forbid...

You are our Father.  Please guide us.  Please send us clear guidance.

Lovingly, humbly, beseechingly Yours,

one of Your children
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