Rabbi Nachman tells us that we need to have patience when things don’t seem to go the way we want and that it’s important not to force the issue. Koheles says there a time for everything.
I’ve believed for a while now that everything has its moment, a special timing. I’ve experienced it personally. In the past, an idea has maybe come to me to make a decision about something and I might think about it for a while and yet do nothing [some might think this procrastination] and yet, for no particular reason, a day will arrive when I’ll feel prompted or compelled into action and usually the outcome is good. I can’t really explain it, it’s a sort of knowing, maybe some would call it intuition, but I call it my “Green Light”.
Several years ago, while working for a design company, I started thinking about leaving. I’d been very happy there, became religious while there, but wanted to do something different, I didn’t really know what. So I started planning my getaway: maybe this summer, then autumn arrived; so maybe next year, then next year arrived but I still hadn’t made the decision. I’d had a thought about going to Israel, maybe to seminary for a few months, and although the idea was taking hold I didn’t seem to be able to put the plan into action. One summer I went to Israel for a holiday. On my return and without having given leaving my job a single thought for months, I felt a compelling desire to hand in my notice, which I did. I had no idea what I was going to do. Seminary faded into the background. In retrospect, I probably felt that I ought to go, rather than wanted to go. I decided to temp with the certainty that I would find a job within a few months. The months went by, potential jobs came and went, without any good reason as to why I didn’t get them. One said I was too professional, another at the last minute placed the position internally, one company never had a permanent position available when I was available etc. Then I got what I thought was a perfect job, working with two women, for a Danish satellite company. The money was good, the work interesting, I could leave early on Friday and they were very respectful. Two months later there was a structural change in the company and I lost my job.
I became despondent. I felt as though my path was constantly blocked. The only positive thing to become apparent was a germ of an idea that I should work in a more vocational capacity as opposed to commercial.
One day, I was sorting out some paperwork at home and came across a compliment slip on which was typed a message from a rabbi who ran an outreach organisation through which I had become religious. It had been sent a few years before with some tickets to sell for a fundraising evening and he had written on it “Hope you can sell these tickets. If you ever need me, don’t be shy to ask.” At the time, I had thought it a bit of an odd thing to write but was so touched by his words that I kept the note. Now after all this time, I had this note in my hand, and I felt Hashem telling me what to do. I should contact the rabbi.
By this time, the rabbi had opened a purpose built outreach centre in a religious neighbourhood. I went to see him. I remember going into this amazing new building and seeing posters advertising shiurim on subjects I could only dream about learning. I’d found my “sem”. I started volunteering during temping breaks. Soon I realised I wanted to work there permanently. I left my CV’s casually lying around. However, I couldn’t imagine there would be a job for me.
Then I got my first break. I was asked to work on a one month project. After that one of the rabbis approached me and asked if I would be interesting in working for him and for another rabbi. Of course I said yes. All the principal could offer me was 3 months, on a very, very low salary. I said I couldn’t live on it and turned it down. In the meantime a company I had temped with on and off offered me a temporary to permanent position. I started the assignment but realised by the end of the first day, however good the terms and conditions would be, that I had made a mistake by turning down the kiruv organisation because this was truly what I was meant to do. A couple of non-jewish employees there, who knew my situation, both said I should go for it! So with Hashem help, I took a 3 month low salary position with no obvious security beyond and waited it out. The principal said yes he would love to take me on permanently but he just didn’t have the monies available.
I said to Hashem [the first time I did hitbodedut although I didn’t realise it at the time], “I’m sorry Hashem but I’m digging my heals in, you’re not sending me back to the non- jewish world now, after everything I’ve been through. I’ll go if I have to but really it just wouldn’t be fair”. Not long after, the principal approached me and said another employee had decided to leave and this had freed up some monies. I was taken on at a drop of £9,000 in salary. I must have been mad! 6 months later, a relative started sending me monetary gifts which went on for a few years!
Oh, and another thing. I found out later when this new outreach centre had first opened its doors. Of course, the month and year I decided to leave my job!