You know that pile of laundry, the one that never ends. You wash all the clothes in the morning, and by nighttime the pile is there again. Oh, and those stacks of dishes, you know the ones, the ones that never end. You wash all the dishes in the sink, and within an hour the stack is there again. I sweep, I clean up. The kids make a mess. I sweep and clean up yet again. Inevitably, within a few minutes, there’s that mess again. I’m tired. I just picked up. I look at the mess and say to myself with a sigh, “I have no strength!”

“I don’t have the strength to listen to this!”The phone rings. It’s that lonely woman, the annoying one who calls me all the time to chat. She talks and she talks. I sigh under my breath, “I don’t have the strength to listen to this!”

My child is playing, “Mommy, Mommy! I want you to play with me.” I think to myself, “I can’t. I’m so tired. I have no strength.” “Mommy, Mommy, I need . . . , I want . . .” And I keep thinking to myself, “I have no strength! I need strength.”

This time, the table is turned. I’m still cleaning, but I ask my son to lend me a hand and pick up the toys in his room, “Oh, I have no strength,” he sighs to me. I’m taken aback. “What do you mean, you have no strength? You have strength to play, but not to help Mommy?” I mumble to myself, “If I offered him a treat, he would suddenly find the strength. It’s not that there’s no strength; there’s no desire!”

I stop for a moment to think about what I just mumbled. The Baal Shem Tov teaches us that when we see something in another person that we don’t like, we need to first examine ourselves, because most probably we have that same quality. I go over the words “I have no strength.” Is it no strength, or no desire? If I knew I was being paid big bucks to do laundry, would I find the strength? If I was preparing an important dinner for the royal family, would I find the strength to cook and clean? If a client called, would I suddenly find the strength to talk? I think that I would, because I would have desire.

If I could really internalize that playing with my children was as essential to their wellbeing as giving them food to eat and clothes to wear, then surely I would find the strength to sit on the floor with them and play with blocks.

I am ready to uplift the mundane and make it holyFrom the codified books of Jewish law we learn that upon rising every morning, a Jew is supposed to wash his or her hands with a cup-like vessel. One pours the water over the right, then left; right, then left; right, then left. In the morning, we awake physically and spiritually refreshed and energized. We are alive! We have renewed strength, and it is as though we emerge newly born from the Creator’s hand. We wash our hands, raise them and say, “I’m ready to serve You, G‑d. I’m ready to raise my hands from their mere physical nature to their higher, spiritual purpose. I am ready to uplift the mundane and make it holy.”

I go back to the words I grumbled about my son. I go back to the words and the prayers that I say when I am so tired. I remember the thoughts that I have when I’m doing the million and one tasks that I do at home, or the times when I’m asked for help and I really just don’t want to. I think about how at times I almost feel resentful as I sigh, “I have no time! I have no strength! Tatty (Father, G‑d), give me strength!”

What would happen if it all were to stop? What would happen if, G‑d forbid, I was sick in bed, and had all the time in the world to do nothing? What would happen if, G‑d forbid, I didn’t have a husband to accompany, children to take care of, a home to clean, or work to do? What would happen if I didn’t have anyone who needed me?

Instead of asking just for strength, maybe I can also pray for desire? “G‑d, give me strength, which You do every moment of the day, and give me will, give me desire! G‑d, help me to change my outlook and to change my attitude! Let me see the importance in what I do, and then I will surely want to do it, and find the strength to do it. Let me use my physical hands for all these ‘mundane’ tasks, and make them holy.”

Let me see the importance in what I do, and then I will surely want to do it“Tatty,” I tell G‑d affectionately, “Tatty, don’t stop. You gave me kids; bless me with more, and with the vigor to take care of them. You gave me a home to clean; give me one that’s bigger, with more rooms. And also, You can give me cleaning help! Send me more patients to heal, and give me the tools that I need to help them. Tatty, I want more of everything that You know is good for me, and give me insight to appreciate it.”

I get up in the morning. I wash my hands, pouring the water over the right, then the left; right, then left; right, then left. The ritual is repeated a little bit later, but this time I have my prayerbook and I am ready to start my morning blessings. I raise my hands up, and before I dry them, I say the blessing. I think to myself, “I’m a new creature, a new person. I’m ready to start this day. G‑d, everything in my life, everything that I do, should be to serve You—giving it meaning and purpose. G‑d, give me strength, and give me desire!”