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''The Proposal'' by Hendel Liberman
"The Proposal" by Hendel Liberman

The Hebrew month of Tishrei is my favorite time of the year. Of course, the nature of the month has much to do with that -- a month brimming over with the whole gamut of holidays ranging from inspirational and cleansing to family oriented, cheerful and fun-filled.

On a personal level, the twenty-eighth day of this month also marks a very special life-altering day for me -- my own wedding anniversary.

So one year ago, as Rosh Hashanah was approaching, I was thinking about anniversaries: the 5,763rd year anniversary celebration of mankind's entry into a relationship with You, G‑d, as well as my own seventeen-year marriage anniversary.

While seventeen years may not sound like much, especially in comparison to close to six thousand years, to me, it marks the door that opened a whole new world and life.

It feels like yesterday when, as two youngsters, my husband and I felt such a pull one to another. Had someone described our relationship or knowledge of each other in those first weeks and years as superficial, I would have been thoroughly insulted.

Maybe other relationships, but not ours.

Though we had our differences, our connection was real. And deep. At the time, I could never have imagined that the magnetic bond pulling us together could grow stronger.

But the bond did grow. And like an elastic band, it also grew more flexible as it tightened around us, providing more room for our respective means of expression.

The differences that we had, which had at times seemed irreconcilable, now seem almost petty. What had before infuriated me -- all right, some things still upset me, but now the edge of anger is not as sharp. Sometimes I even have a glimpse of appreciation for how those differences enhance our connection.

I guess that with the familiarity we also both let our guard down more. Careless words stumble out more freely. We don't think as much before acting. The small, sweet gestures for one another may have become less frequent.

But that doesn't hide the intent which is still obviously there. Besides, now his every small effort to please me becomes all the more precious. When he does put that special card on my desk, it means all the more to me.

As I was musing about my upcoming anniversary, the thought struck me: Could it be that this same dynamic is mirrored in our relationship, as a people, with You, G‑d? True, after all these thousands of years, we may be less sensitive to Your wants and wishes than we had been in the past. Our guard is down; our behavior may no longer reflect the same nuances of care as in previous generations. Our speech and actions don't have the proper consideration and forethought that they are meant to have. We aren't in tune with Your desires as we had been in better times of our history.

And You, too, don't give Yourself as freely as you did in times gone by. The miracles don't abound. The intimate connection isn't felt as much. Our matrimonial homeland is not imbued with the same holiness and warmth.

But maybe, despite this seeming rift and deficiency in our relationship, the bonds of connection are in a way stronger and superior. Each of our actions counts for so much more and, when it really comes down to it, we're ready to sacrifice our very selves for You.


I was caught up in these reflections in the week before Tishrei as I busily went about preparing, spiritually and materially, for the upcoming holidays. There was so much to do. Meals to cook, soufflés to bake, dresses to purchase and all the usual hubbub of frenzied household activity for the holiday arrangements.

Then, Thursday morning, in midst of these preparations, my husband commented that he must have caught a bad stomach virus. The following morning, a day before the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the bags under his tired eyes indicated that his abdominal pain had not relented but rather kept him up most of the night. By midday the pain intensified unbearably and was now situated just to the left of his stomach.

A short and immediate visit to the doctor confirmed our suspicion. "Rush immediately to the hospital for a possible emergency appendix surgery," instructed our family physician.

Upon our arrival at the hospital -- ignoring the traffic lights, at my husband's urging -- I could see that he was doubled over in pain. His ashen face was creased in anxiety.

Seeing him in such inordinate pain, still uncertain of its cause, as we waited the endless wait in the hospital emergency room, made me feel utterly helpless.

Forgotten at this moment were all the holiday preparations. The recipes sitting on my counter for the fancy desserts, or the pants desperately needing hemming, were completely disregarded.

Forgotten as well were all the times in the past that my husband had made a comment that was stupid or reckless. Overlooked were all the times he forgot to take out the garbage or left his jacket thrown over the living room couch, knowing full well how it irked me so. Nor did I think of the times he thoughtlessly forgot to express gratitude for something I did for him. Even the toothpaste tube that he so often carelessly leaves open didn't enter my mind.

These didn't matter. Not in the slightest. Not now.

As I sat at his bedside awaiting emergency appendix surgery at 3:00 AM on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exactly 29 days before our seventeenth anniversary, my thoughts were focused entirely on what I could do to ease his pain.

As I waited in the nearby waiting room as he was wheeled into the operating room, I was only capable of summoning the strength to mouth nonstop prayers begging G‑d that no complications arise and that the operation be successful.

And rushing to the recovery room at 4:00 AM, on tired feet that had not let up for twenty-two hours, as he was groggily wheeled from the successful operation, I could only wish that his recuperation be speedy.

And when the doctor released him the following afternoon, on his insistence, just hours before Rosh Hashanah, all I could think of as I drove us home was how to make him more comfortable.

Have the differences between us gone away? Have I learned not to care when he forgets the garbage? No, I still care, and will care, about these things. But what has surfaced over the last seventeen years is a deeper aspect of the relationship than these gestures will ever represent.

Sure, the gestures are nice. And certainly, we should work on keeping them intact, and even growing. But far more important is the surfacing of the bond that had grown and that will hopefully continue to grow. And this bond that was being revealed is far more potent than any gesture possibly could be.


As I stood in shul on Rosh Hashanah listening to the sound of the shofar, I did indeed resolve to make sure to work on those "gestures" that I know are so dear and important to You, G‑d. This year, I vowed, I will work on my prayers, on saying my blessings with more concentration and increasing my times of Torah study. I will work, as well, on my patience and tolerance for those around me and on being more careful with the words that come out from my mouth.

But though I will work on these things, I realize, too, that my personal bond to You, and our collective bond to You as a people, runs deeper than any of these things possibly could be. Our bond to You means that when it comes right down to it, we are willing to forego our very selves for Your sake.

And, standing in shul on Rosh Hashanah, 28 days before my own anniversary, as I resolve to make these improvements for the coming year, I also make one more small resolution.

This year, I will make sure to buy him an anniversary card -- on time.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Painting by Chassidic artist Hendel Lieberman.
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Anonymous New jersey January 12, 2016

I love this. The author is so honest with herself. That makes a huge difference. She acknowledged that certain things will still bother her but she will continue to work on it. Like our relationship with Hashem, every day we work to do better and get closer to Hashem, sometimes it's not easy, but we don't stop trying. Reply

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