Rosh Hashanah is supposed to be the day we coronate the King of the World. It can be rather humbling and sometimes we fail in our mission… but sometimes we don’t.
When I had a few young kids, I also wanted to sit with the congregation and hear the shofar being blown. I wanted connection. Connection with the holiday, connection with my family and connection with my community. Our congregation had very strict rules about quiet when the shofar was being blown. No noise. Period. I knew the rule and I was sure my young boys knew them too. Or at least I thought so.
The proud mother that I was, I had my boys dressed up in their best finery. They wore matching navy shorts, neat tucked-in shirts with adorable vests and bow-ties. Adorable enough to make any mother glow. We reached the synagogue a few minutes early and waited outside. The boys began to squirm.
(me and the boys on our way to celebrate Rosh Hashanah )
“Hold on everyone,” I pleaded. “We will go in inside in a minute.” I was saving their prized lollypops to keep them quiet during the shofar blowing. I peeked my head in to see where the prayers were up to. It seemed the right time to enter. With my finger to my lips, I silently led the little jumpy boys into the sanctuary. We listened to end of the prayers and then the big moment. A long wale followed by shorter notes and then staccato notes, short and sharp. The boys sucked hard on their lollypops while the piercing sounds continued. All seems good. I could feel my body begin to relax. We were nearing the end when my 2-year-old son added wales of his own. It appeared his lollypop had become detached from its stick and had fallen onto the floor. Much too dirty for my fussy son.
I looked at him with the same big eyes that glared at me from all corners of the synagogue. I needed to make a quick getaway. I took the 2-year-old by the hand and motioned for the other boys to quickly follow me out. When we got out to the glaring sunlight, I looked down at the curly head. Rage was boiling inside of me. My one time of the year to feel connected… and everything poof due to a dirty lollypop. The hurt welled up and the strong attack on the nonchalant boy was about to be emitted when I had a brief moment to pause. The way I behave today is representative of the way I have been all year long. How do I want to be judged on this day of judgement? I let a deep breath out and looked at the little boy with the smudged vest and bow tie.
“How about we go home and wash your hands?” I asked calmly. “I bet they feel sticky.” And off we went preserving the rest of the holy day.