Big Lessons From Little
A few months ago, I got a job in the gan of my
community. It has turned out to be a delightful experience.
The part that I find most interesting is, of course, the kids
and all the funny and smart things that they say and do. It
is very gratifying, as well, to watch the shy child become
more extroverted or another one learn to share graciously. It
is exciting to watch the children learn to wait their turns
or to sing in unison. The speed at which children can grow
and change is amazing.
What has affected me the most, however, is the spiritual
lessons that I have learned from observing them and these are
the things that I hope will stay with me once the job has
As a former social worker and therapist, I have spent many
years helping adults face and define destructive behavior in
order to make adjustments to gain quality of life and have
better relationships. Whatever techniques are utilized,
however, self image is difficult to change and self worth is
often elusive. Many people feel that they will never be able
to act any differently. They feel hopeless. Yet it is a
problem most of us have, to one degree or another.
Not so with my four-year-olds! Ten minutes after cooling out
time in the corner and they are new people! They are ready to
apologize, ask forgiveness for whatever the aveira
was, make amends and presto! They feel good as new. It's
obvious. They are laughing, smiling, and playing once again,
participating fully, not avoiding anyone or carrying a
grudge, not sulking and, most of all, truly convinced that
they will NEVER commit that particular sin again! And if they
do - they act completely surprised! I am so moved!
Observing their hopefulness and their belief in themselves
has impressed me deeply. I want to recapture that optimism
again, as I believe it is essential to real tshuva.
Even if the same child makes the same mistake the very next
day, he is, again, completely sincere in his repentance
ritual. He has his time out to think and say that he is
sorry; he promises never to do it again, makes amends and
really means it with all his heart. I can feel this
instinctively as I search their innocent faces, listen to
their voices and watch their bodies move. They truly believe
in their own tshuva. Therefore, they are happy to
rejoin the group and begin once again to learn and play and
grow. How beautiful they are in their innocence and how I
love them! Despite the fact that we are not little children
and our sins may not be so small or easily mended, that is
not the point here. It is a question of attitude. They have
taught me a very valuable lesson: just go forward! Life is
too exciting to be consumed with unnecessary guilt or with
the past. Maybe you really will NEVER do `it' again.
Believe in yourself and get on with life! Live the present in
joy and Hashem will help!