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Take the Hint

That one Shabbat candle kept on blowing out before all the others. At first I ignored it; then, I had a premonition that one of my daughters was in grave danger...


Take the Hint, Part 1

The last two weeks have been one of the most intense times of my life. It all started a few weeks’ back, when one of the Shabbat candles that I light for my girls started to go out a bit earlier than the others.
The first week, I barely noticed. The second week, I noticed and started to get a twinge of concern. The third week, the same candle got accidentally blown out – and I suddenly went into complete panic mode.
What was going on here? I knew that nothing was random or accidental; G-d was clearly trying to send me a message – but I had no idea what it was. I’ve always been a worrier (although the hitbodedut has helped make it far more manageable) and all the cold fear that always seems to just sit in me, saw it’s opportunity and bubbled up to the surface.
I decided I needed to do six hours of hitbodedut (personal prayer), and at the end of that, I came to the conclusion that I needed to start lighting candles with oil for my kids, and to take a few minutes to actually pray for them over the candles.
We bought the oil glasses, and my husband (over) filled them. I prayed over them, and watched my candles like a hawk all of Friday night. I felt very tense, and wasn’t really enjoying Shabbat at all, waiting to see what would happen. Thank G-d, they burned fine.
Then the next week, yet again, the floating wick of one of the candles got stuck on the side of the glass, and looked like it was going to burn out much earlier. I panicked again. I prayed. And prayed. And left the room for a few minutes and prayed. And somehow, thank G-d, the candle righted itself and went on to burn even longer than the others.
But by now, I was seriously spooked. All sorts of dark thoughts started to fill my head. What was G-d trying to tell me about my kids? That same week, my eldest daughter came home complaining about a headache. She’s been under the weather for months, with cough after cold; tummy aches, bone aches and everything-else-aches. But never a headache.
I tried to play it down, but by Friday, I was dreading her coming home from school. That cold fear that always sits in me was completely ruling the roost. She came home, told me she had a headache again – and I basically collapsed from worry. I went to bed, shaking with fear, and kept throwing up.
I couldn’t stand being around my candles; I couldn’t stand being around my kids. I was in a very dark place indeed; a place that I knew I could only get out of with Hashem’s help. Sunday, I took my daughter to the doctor, who seemed very unconcerned. He thought it was sinusitis, or something.
I was a bit relieved, but the fear still had me by the throat. What if he was wrong? Monday, I went to Kever Rochel for another six hour session. For the first hour, I couldn’t stop crying. I was so scared about my daughter. It was extremely tense, and extremely intense. But by the end, Hashem had calmed me down enough to give me the next bit of the puzzle; get your kids to do some hitbodedut, He told me.
So Tuesday, I went to the shekel shop, and bought a bag of 30 different things as a ‘lucky dip’. I told the kids that whenever they did five minutes of talking to G-d, they could pick something out. The oldest loved that idea, and did 50 minutes. The last two sessions were done ‘out loud’, walking round my living room. And that’s when Hashem showed me what was really going on.
My oldest is very sweet, and very sensitive. Things that ping off other people stick to her for days. She’s a big neshama, and when her neshama is hurting, it affects every other part of her.
It turned out that for months and months, she’d been continually teased at school. They’d tease her about her hair; about her clothes; about her socks; about not having a ‘televisia’ at home. Once that particular dam burst, a whole bunch of other things fell into place. My youngest, who in some ways is a tougher character, told me that they were also teasing her on the bus to and from school, and that they were putting my oldest daughter in the situation of standing up for her sister, and being teased even more.
This ‘teasing’ is not bullying. You can’t stop it by talking to parents or teachers, because it’s not even words. It’s looks, smiles, smirks and secrets. But if you’re a sensitive soul, it wounds to the core.
That explained my kids’ enormous reluctance to go to school every day. Why they were so ‘tired’ on a weekday – but bounced out of bed at 6am on Shabbat. Why the oldest was coming back with ‘aches’ all the time.
But I still didn’t know what to do about it all. So on Wednesday, I went off to Hevron, for another 6 hour session of hitbodedut. I begged Hashem to show me what He was trying to tell me.
It was another emotionally exhausting six hours, where I got a lot of clarity into a lot of different things. But one thing stood out clearly: we had to find a different, more suitable school for the girls. And we couldn’t find that school locally. We had to move.
I broached the idea to my girls, and after they got over the initial shock, they were both very keen. Once I saw how lonely they’d both been, I knew it was the right thing to do. I broached the idea to my husband, and after some hitbodedut, he could also see it was the right thing to do. We were all quite dazed, but we all knew that for many, many reasons, the time had come for us to move on.
The question was, where to?
To be continued.

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Junk Product
YH4/23/2010 12:41:39 AM
  I love reading all your articles!
nava4/21/2010 10:47:11 PM

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