September 23, 2004
The 8th of Tishrei
With the Wonder of a Child
Yesterday I took my granddaughter to get her first pair of real shoes. It was quite an event, our inaugural purchase in the new shopping mall in Pisgat Zeev (the first Jerusalem neighborhood we reach when travelling from Shiloh.) When I bought my own children’s “first shoes” they were all younger, and I don’t remember any of them reacting with the same joy and enthusiasm as Hallel.
First we showed her the display shoe of the style we had hoped would fit, and she grabbed it with a possessiveness, like she had been waiting her entire life for just that shoe. A few minutes later, with the proper size on her feet, we gently pried the shoe from hands and stood her up on the floor. Then she grabbed our hands and tried walking with the bright, red shoes on her feet. In less than a minute she let go and we followed.
It was thrilling watching the total happiness and amazement that radiated from her, as for the first time she could freely wander and such wonders she saw. Everything caught her attention, and when we took her into the large toy store, she wheeled around a variety of doll carriages and little wagons. Later we let her walk into the supermarket, where her enthusiasm over the different colored peppers on display was even more than she had shown over the balloons in the wide corridor. She tried to grab grapes and then was easily distracted when we showed her the colored containers of fabric softeners and detergents. Following Hallel, I, too began to see the supermarket as a beautiful mix of colors and treasures. By looking at the mall with Hallel’s eyes I, too, saw abundance and riches.
On Yom Kippur we fast and confess all possible sins to G-d. Then we are to be forgiven, and we become as “new.” Our slates are wiped clean, as clean as that of a child. We are supposed to be changed by the process of tshuva, repentance. What’s the purpose of these weeks of soul-searching, all of the hours of prayer, confession and twenty-five hours of fasting if we’re going to remain the same as before?
As new people we should be looking at the world with new eyes. We should be looking at the world, at G-d’s creations and abundance with the joy of a toddler. By cleaning ourselves of sin we should be washing away doubts and cynicism. We must purify our faith.
On Yom Kippur we imitate the angels, who have no bodily needs and thereby neither eat nor drink. We can handle it for a day at the most. G-d helps us by giving us prayers to say, more than on any other day. It’s like when Hallel needed our hands for her very first steps with her first shoes.
Our challenge is following G-d when he’s not holding our hands. Our challenge is seeing the beauty of His gifts. We must learn to see the world with the wonder of a child.
Chag Sameach and Gmar Chatima Tova to all of you.
Batya Medad, Shiloh