12 Cheshvan 5779 / Sunday, October 21, 2018 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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Blind to my Blessings    

Blind to my Blessings

Coming from Miami and used to big city life and beautiful beaches, I couldn’t imagine seeing myself living in a small town far away from, well, everything…


Nearly eight years ago my family and I came to visit Beit Shemesh on our pilot trip. It was the only city Rav Lazer Brody had suggested we look into because it’s crawling with chutznikim (people that originally had lived outside of Israel.) So he figured it would be a good place to start our journey in Israel.


I automatically agreed, because what did I know one city from another? But when we got to Beit Shemesh, I was beyond shocked by the level of disappointment I felt. It was chol hamoed Pesach, and the town was practically deserted. Coming from Miami and used to big city life and beautiful beaches, I couldn’t imagine seeing myself living in a small town far away from, well, everything.


But Hashem has His ways, and regardless of my protests, we ended up here. The ironic thing is that my adjustment to Israeli life has been the easiest part of living here. I grew up with Israeli parents, so I was already used to the Israeli mentality and behavior.


The hard part was getting used to living in a city that I just didn’t feel comfortable in. I was having a hard time making friends, as women here are so busy and don’t have much, if any, time to get together. The street I lived on for the first three years was super quiet - not at all like the Israel I had anticipated.


When we moved to our current apartment, there was a whole new set of things that I didn’t like, which added to my lack of feeling like I belonged in this town. What really upset me the most was that I felt very isolated from civilization, because to get to any major city took at least an hour, and it was a potential nightmare just getting in and out of Beit Shemesh.


So all these factors combined gave me an ever-growing dissatisfaction with where we lived. I finally decided, late in the summer, that we should start considering other places to live that would be more suitable for us.

And then a funny thing happened.


Just when I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never like Beit Shemesh, strange things started occurring.


I started making friends! Shocking, I know. Suddenly I became more friendly with all kinds of cool women; women I didn’t think existed here. These were women like me, from America, frum, yet with it. At least I think I’m with it.


We switched my kids’ schools this year to a completely different school system, and they are all thriving beautifully, even though they love to complain about the tons of homework they now have. Welcome to school, kiddies. Thank G-d I found a school that fits us and that provides the type of learning that I want for my kids.


The apartment that I found all kinds of problems with still has those problems, but now our location couldn’t be better. It’s on the same street as my husband’s shul, my mikvah, two of my kids’ preschools, and less than five minutes’ walk from my other kids’ schools. It’s a two minute walk to the town square. PLUS, it’s on the ground floor, I have a massive (for Israel) balcony and side yard, and my view is absolutely stunning.


Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the gorgeous new outdoor mall with all kinds of great restaurants and activities for the kids. And everywhere I turn, I see new construction going up. Beit Shemesh is definitely an up-and-coming city. And of course, how can I not mention the brand new road that just completed construction two months ago? It cut travel time to the main highway by more than half!


Looking back at all these years of swinging between appreciating and complaining, I realize that I was pretty much blind to my blessings. Hashem knew exactly what He was doing by putting me here, in this town, on this street, and in this house.


It’s amazing what a little change in perspective can do. Sometimes our lack of realizing what a good thing we have is the reason we’re not getting other things we want in life. Why should Hashem give us more if we’re not already happy with what He’s given us so far?


So that’s the lesson I’m sharing with you. Don’t be blind to your blessings. If you want more, it is absolutely okay to ask Hashem for more. Just remember to appreciate what you have first!



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Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il

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