| Words Unspoken |

Dear Mothers

But then you push it too far. You think you can stretch “happy kiddo” to chap arein Shemoneh Esreh


Dear Mothers,

Yes, I get it. The day is long. It’s hard. And I’m not even talking about your struggle to feel connected to the Yom Hadin.

Your day most probably started way before mine — someone probably cried at six. Maybe another needed a bottle or diaper change before I woke at eight or nine. And you’ve been feeding, entertaining, putting to sleep, and repeating.

But you have to hear shofar. A reason to get dressed and go out. You plan it so well. You make sure to buy treats. You leave enough time to get dressed, get to shul, and come upstairs. You sit on a chair one of us offered you — ’cuz you have little ones, who are happy… for now.

You wait.

There’s still Krias HaTorah to finish off, haftarah, and hagba’ah before shofar starts. Your little ones are halfway through their nosh and shofar hasn’t even begun. By the time it does, your kiddy-credit has run low. Someone will start to cry. Or maybe even get a shock from the shofar’s cry. And someone will shuffle or rustle a snack pack.

But the shofar’s louder. It is what it is — everyone deserves a place in shul. Right?

It’s your right to be there.

And of course you have to fulfill the mitzvas hayom. Plus, really, you crave connection to the awesomeness of the day.

I promise. I get it. I know it’s hard.

So I and the other women in shul, we bear it. And we think — Hashem, this is our sacrifice. We’re in shul. Being focused during shofar isn’t in the cards. But we’re working on bein adam l’chaveiro, so that counts. Right?

But then you push it too far. You think you can stretch “happy kiddo” to chap arein Shemoneh Esreh. Let me tell you something. You can’t. And you shouldn’t. Every year, you try. And then someone starts making noise before anyone can even get to magen Avraham. And you know what happens? Because you tried to chap arein, the whole shul is stuck. The halachah says you should stop right where you are and walk out without even finishing the brachah. But you’re not aware of that.

Oh, the shushing is the worst — it’s louder than the kid!

No, I’m not going to go on about how hard it is to be the one without kids, and that being able to stand in shul all day doesn’t always feel like a brachah — and that feeling a connection is hard for those in shul, too.

Let’s be a team.

This year, get dressed and come to shul with your kiddies (and hey, it’s so cute to see them growing up). But I’m begging you, don’t push your luck. If you arrive super early, go back outside, let them run around so that the men (who are in the same room as us ladies!) can be yotzei Krias HaTorah. Be there for shofar — and then, quietly, please go home.

And when Shemoneh Esreh starts, and the shul is quiet, those of us in shul will work hard to concentrate and have you in mind, too!

Wishing you and your beautiful family a gut gebentsht yahr,


The Woman in the Corner, Who Is Also Struggling to Connect


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 860)

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