Not long ago, Raizel and I returned from a 72 hour reprieve at an undisclosed location.. The life of a large family with many responsibilities and 7 beautiful children doesn’t allow for too many “exotic” getaways. I have no resentment about that, that is the life I signed up for and the life of purpose and meaning that I happily live.
That said, humans are machines and like anything else they need maintenance and care if they are to endure and last. If you don’t fill up your car with gas, it will stop running eventually.
If you don’t do an oil change, the engine will eventually conk out.. If you don’t change your timing belt (no, didn’t learn that in Yeshiva) your engine will seize and it will be time to buy a new car.
Humans are no different. My Yeshiva mentors often paraphrased the Rebbe saying that “vacations are not vacations from yiddishkeit, but to yiddishkeit.” As I age () I understand this to mean the same thing. You both cannot run from your yiddishkeit responsibilities while away on vacation, you must daven and learn and in fact without some of the usual disturbances, you can potentially learn more, deeper or new things in Torah that you might otherwise not study. Simultaneously, I understand it to mean that you need to give your body and soul a reprieve from the usual grind if you are to be able to take the car to 300,000 miles.
This little getaway (facilitated in part by some good friends who “hooked-us-up”, you know who you are, and THANK YOU) threatened to be undone nearly from the get-go. Our carefully laid plans, (spreadsheet and all) who will drop off, who will pick up, different children, different times, different days etc.. etc.. food, baby sitters, bedtime rituals etc.. unravelled almost immediately.
One child got a cough that kept them home from school. (Around the clock sitter now needed.) Another was dealing with an out-of-school crisis that suddenly needed our parental involvement. Another had an issue at their school that required our immediate attention (or else). There was a not-so-small business matter that required our attention or threatened to be lost.
The enmeshed codependent me wondered if we had only turned off our phones and let nature do its thing, would things have resolved themselves without creating a secondary crisis? I don’t have a good answer to that, I only know what the correct answer was for me.
It became a mantra that I repeated multiple times over our short getaway, this is from Hashem and this is exactly what Hashem wants for me/us at this time. I can sweat it, resent it, wallow in self-pity or submit to it and enjoy myself in-between the constant interruptions. It was a conscious decision not to let circumstances not in my control derail very carefully laid plans.
I feel that this is, in a lot of ways, truly the story of life. If we are in fact believers, and I think we are, then letting go and letting Gd has to be at the center of our universe. It’s not only a survival technique, or a way to salvage a vacation that threatens not to be, it is truly THE key to happiness.
I ask not to be tested, but I know this truth to be absolute.
This truth saved my vacation, but more importantly, challenged me to put into practice what I know fundamentally to be true.
It really helped be a vacation TO yiddishkeit, not FROM it.