Obviously, our heroine is no murderer. Still, she seeks a hide-out. A City of Refuge. Well, not an entire city, but a private place she can crawl into and yank over her head, where she can lament and repent the fact that last week on Rosh Hodesh Elul she spaced off two chances - Friday night, Shabbos morning - to say Kaddish for her father. And then, on the third and final chance, she pranced to shul Saturday evening (with Big Red playing at home, let’s call this decision her personal Hail Mary) and discovered (S*U*R*P*R*I*S*E) not enough souls for a minyan. Well, duh. What did you expect, cackled her fearsome inner-Judge. Even Abraham couldn’t find ten good men to save Sodom. And you, pip-squeak, you thought ten people would skip a Husker ball game to bail YOU out? Hah.
Our heroine’s guilt is size XXXL. Out of proportion, certainly, to the size of the missed Kaddish that Poppa would surely forgive. But the gaffe adds another page to her Annual Jewish New Year Catalogue of Custom-Made Miseries and Judgements.
Weepy, bummed out, huddled inside Eeyore’s Gloomy Place, Rather Boggy and Sad,
our heroine puts on her hair shirt and reads the inventory of her indiscretions:
for being an impatient wife and overly-needy mother, I apologize. For being Bubbie the inquisitor/sermonizer, I apologize. Turning to the Why Did She/He/They Have To Die? section, our heroine moans like she’s the only one ever to have loved and lost. By the time she reaches the page titled A Friend Who Said She’d Call But Didn’t, and the Waddaya Mean It’s Not All About Me section, our heroine is white with rage, totally pissed. Oooooo, them there bad mad sad boo-hoo scratchy shirts look mighty snug, Toots, chides our heroine’s inner-Judge. Didn’t you swear to lay off the hot fudge? Better add LACKS DISCIPLINE to your catalogue. Awwww, well. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Heh, heh. Heh.
Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah, wrote, “The court is obligated to straighten the roads to the Cities of Refuge, to repair them and broaden them. They must remove all impediments and obstacles. Bridges should be built over all natural barriers so as not to delay one who is fleeing to the City of Refuge. Miklat, miklat - refuge, refuge - must be written on sign posts at all crossroads, so the murderers should recognize the way and turn there.” For Hassidic masters, Elul is considered a refuge in time. Time for us to clear and repair every possible route so those who have done wrong – accidentally or deliberately – are cut some slack, find a sanctuary in order to reflect on, and make amends for their actions. A system that works for our actions, too.
Which brings us back to our Heroine.
She’s not stupid.
So why does she put boulders, chuck holes and detours in the path to forgiving herself? Why can’t she tell her inner-Judge to shove it?
Our heroine doesn’t need a City of Refuge.
Our heroine, like old grey Eeyore, just needs a hug.
copyright 2016 Ozzie Nogg