Tuesday, March 15, 2011

They shoot, I’ll build

I have been sick for a couple of weeks straight now with one thing and then another—our whole family seems to be building our immigrant immunity to a new continent’s worth of germs. And just as I was recovering from the last thing, I injured my back. My husband has been bearing the entire burden of caring for the kids, which we usually share. He is dressing them, feeding them, ferrying them back and forth from gan and babysitting, putting them to bed. The laundry is piling up and the Shabbat leftovers are running out.

And I? I am lying around, reading books and absorbing the tragic news the internet brings my way, praying and making point-and-click financial contributions in response to the horrible events rattling our little world and the larger world.

I am speaking of the brutal murder of the Fogel family, of course, and also the Japan catastrophe. And the death of a young mother in my community whom I did not know. We have entered Adar, the month of joy, but it feels like Av.

It’s a strange space to be in, to be so completely affected by what my body is doing, and yet to be so little concerned. My mind is on the victims and survivors, on the pain and devastation. My body cannot bend, turn or walk much.

In times of good health, my biggest internal struggle is against my laziness. Given the chance (and had I a different life philosophy), I would lie on the couch, listen to public radio, and play Tetris. I need to bribe myself for every tiny victory in the realm of personal responsibility, especially when it comes to keeping house.

And now I find that I have that chance to lie around and do nothing. And it’s incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t want to lie on the couch. I don’t want to be a helpless taker. I want to give. I want to clean the house. I want to prepare meals. I want to dress my children. I want to take care of my family.

During a visit to Itamar following the massacre, the prime minister said, “They shoot, we build.” His was referring to a policy decision, of course—the announcement of new construction in the territories. But they are also a testament to a fundamentally Jewish response to suffering: we build.

I am tempted to let myself to be sucked into despair and obsession. On the couch recovering, I have the time to read endless news reports and blogger analyses. But that’s just treading water, spiritually speaking. I know with perfect clarity that the I need to direct my energy toward building. And that means letting my body heal so I can get back to nurturing my family.

I hope that when I feel better, I won’t take my health for granted. I hope I will have the strength and courage to do the simple, vital work of taking care of my home. I think that’s the best way I can build right now.

1 comment:

tzirelchana said...

this was a really great post

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