The girl can barely speak, the lump in her throat is so large. And she cries brokenly as she tells him that she’s reached a dead end
One day a girl sees a raffle for a sheitel and decides to enter. Which might sound normal, but really isn’t; she’s as single as they come, with no dates on the cards.
Still, the girl smiles as she types in her credit card information, and giggles as she tells her married friends. Because only she knows what this means for her.
A Week Earlier
This same girl goes to visit her rav. She’s been putting it off for months, years even, scared that if she started talking, she wouldn’t stop.
But now she drives three and a half hours, parks, and tramps through a rainstorm, then rings the bell.
The Rebbetzin ushers her in and the girl sits down. The Rav asks her what she wants to talk about, and she smiles and says, “lots of things.” She starts talking about shidduchim, and he listens with care.
When she stops, he sighs. He shows her an imaginary tower on the table, high, unstable, rocking at the edges. He empathizes, telling her how hard it must be to have something added to the pile that is her life. She bursts into tears.
He has no tissues in his room, and she really doesn’t want to cry endlessly, so she forces herself to keep on talking. They discuss some practical issues, but he senses there’s more. He keeps mentioning her challenging circumstances, with an understanding that means so much. He tells her how overwhelming it all sounds, how difficult it must be, and she keeps on talking, her voice choked-up. She really wants tissues.
The girl can barely speak, the lump in her throat is so large. And she cries brokenly as she tells him that she’s reached a dead end. Her brains and her talent, her efforts, and years of work on herself, none of it can take away this excruciating pain, the agony of being in a position that neither she nor he nor anyone can change. The tears are flowing full force, she can’t stop them.
She can’t daven with feeling anymore, she shares, can’t trust with calm, can’t feel okay. Maybe Hashem just doesn’t want this for her at all, she says, maybe it’s just not where her life is going to go. Her voice is as broken as her spirit. She is so, so done.
She has never felt so alone, so lost, so stuck, so persecuted, she explains. She has never felt abandoned the way she feels now, stuck in a place where the normal things her friends have are but a pipe dream. He listens. He nods. He reflects it back.
He stares into the distance and says it feels so unfair, looks up at the ceiling and says how hard it is, how much she is coping with daily. And she cries and cries and cries.
She talks about her classmates — all married. She talks about her friends — all married. She talks about how she can’t seem to find anything at all to help her anymore. You’ve got the message, he affirms, why isn’t the pain ending?
He doesn’t try to fix it, but tells her she’s a miracle for staying so strong, so true, so sane. She feels like anything but a miracle — depressed, withered, rundown and tired, stuck in an endless black hole of pain and issues. But his words spark that old feeling inside her, the one she used to have, and remind her that just like she is a miracle, miracles happen.
Something opens up for the first time since eternity. The distance, the anger start to fade as she feels the stirrings of connection. She drives home, and davens Maariv, shaking and crying. I can’t do this anymore, make it end.
It helps. She feels alive for the first time in forever. There’s pain, but at least it’s being channeled somewhere.
She goes out with a friend, and she talks and talks and talks. She speaks about the pain of feeling so stuck, of not understanding what this is for, how it can help, why she has to go through this. It’s as if a dam has broken.
She’s crying, her friend is crying. She’s never said it so brutally before. That it hurts to see couples, that it kills to see babies, that the pain on Shabbos and Yom Tov — the loneliness, the sadness, the powerlessness — is unbearable.
She talks about how she would give anything, anything, to have a normal life, a home, a family of her own. She talks about how easy it would be for Hashem to take this away, and why she feels so teased, so punished, when He keeps her here, year after year, a hairbreadth away from salvation.
She just wants what other people have, she seethes. Doesn’t she deserve anything? Is she a terrible person? She doesn’t think so, but sometimes that seems to be the only answer as to why He’s withholding what she wants most of all. What she’s sure she needs, too.
She talks and cries until finally, finally, she’s spent. She’s spoken. She’s davened. She’s wept. She’s utterly drained, but there’s a current of life flowing in her that she’s missed for oh so long. A sliver of light pushing her on.
It’s a few days later when the brochure comes round, with the shiny ad for a sheitel — this could be yours. A few weeks ago, this would have made her angry, but now, it’s different. She knows, without a flicker of a doubt, that she’s going to enter.
She might not win, but that’s okay, because it’s the receipt, winking in her Inbox, which reminds her: Hearts break and sob and cry from agony, but they can hope and dream, too.
And who knows? Maybe this time He’ll make those dreams come true…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 783)
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