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BlogElul Day 1: Decide

Some decisions seem inevitable. Then you realize (or re-realize, or God reminds you) that nothing exists in a vaccume. We – our lives, our experiences, and our decisions – are all inextricably intertwined with each other in ways we cannot possibly see in the moment, but when looking back, we are sometimes gifted with the ability to see how certain decisions lined up, interplayed, and affected each other.

In part 2 of the Technically Religious episode “Release to Production”, I shared a challenge which at the time seemed to be leading to an inevitable decision, but which – due to decisions made by many people – had a much different (and much better) outcome.

My son left for a year in Israel at the end of August, but immediately after arriving was thrown into a series of experiences that were so challenging to him, so overwhelming, that the only thing we could think of doing was to bring him home. It was a hard decision. A bad one, from the standpoint that this trip had been months in the making, and was expensive financially and emotionally.

In the thick of things, I made my own personal decision – a contract with God of sorts. If He could find a way to keep my son in Israel, I would push myself to get up each morning at 5am and come to selichot. A little thing in the grand scheme of the universe, but for me it is a big deal, for reasons I will get into later in this series.

However…

After we’d exhausted what we thought were all of our other options; after many long phone calls at all hours of the day and night; and after a lot of tears shed, we bought a ticket for our son to come home, regroup, and figure out what would come next.

That morning, the morning he was set to fly home, I decided I would get up for selichot anyway. It seemed like the right thing to do. And in that moment, several other decisions came into play.

With 15 minutes to go before my son got on a shuttle to the airport,

  • Staff and friends decided on a plan that would allow my son to remain in yeshiva and achieve the goals he’d set for himself.
  • My son made the decision – despite the fact that, in that moment, all he wanted to do was come home to the quiet, the familiar, the insular – to trust us when we said that staying was his best option.
  • My wife and I made the decision to cancel the plane ticket.

He’s still there, and done well. We feel good in that decision. And I’m still getting up each morning. Paradoxically sad that I have nobody to share those early morning moments with, and thankful that my son was having his own experiences on this next step in his journey.

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