Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Sivan 5762 - May 22, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Morning Dew
by Y. Dror

At first, she put the constant tiredness and irritability down to stress and worry. Baby had been ill on and off all winter. Her job as an assistant at the local nursery was an additional strain, and she felt it was all too much for her. Maybe it was `mono' or C.F.S. (chronic fatigue syndrome), but nothing showed up on the blood test.

She began to be impatient with the children, hustled them into bed without the erstwhile bedtime story. Said Shema with them hurriedly and with a perfunctory kiss to each of them, breathed a sigh of relief. Her heart sank, though, when she saw the state of her house each night, with clothes strewn all over the place.

There was advice aplenty from well meaning friends and neighbors. Most did not appeal to her. But she did decide to get up for early morning calisthenics.

"Breathe deeply," encouraged the voice on the tape. "Feel your toes, your fingers, straighten your back, loosen your shoulders..." As yet, it hadn't made any difference to her, but these exercises were meant to invigorate and rejuvenate, so there must be something in it. But any slight feelings of animation she might have felt were quickly dissipated by the pressure awaiting her. A button was off Yael's blouse; Moishie had a hole in his sock. She switched off the tape. The smooth voice irritated her. Naomi was intelligent enough to realize that she was on a downward spiral. She had to find a way out.


Colorful posters were pasted prominently in shops and on notice boards so that you couldn't miss them. "This is your opportunity. Self awareness, developing your personality, education with a smile. You can master this creed in one evening and change your entire life."

One evening? Naomi felt a spark of hope. She had heard of a series of lectures and talks; she had heard of support groups, a long complicated process. Anyway, leaving the house meant planning and organization, and the very thought made her feel ill. But one night? Perhaps this is really an opportunity for me, thought Naomi, studying the ad.

The crowd of women who squeezed into the lecture hall surprised even the two organizers who stood at the door handing out flyers. The pile of money for the entrance fee grew steadily larger, whereas the papers were almost all gone. Naomi met many women she knew, from all walks of life, some of whom half apologized for being there, as if they were above such things. She sat down and studied the attractive prospectus in her hand.

The headline "Morning Dew" was followed by various subtitles. "At this meeting, we are going to study and apply:

* Optimistic awakening * Affirming your personal competence * Hope and its effect on the present * Managing on a limited budget * The key to self sacrifice -- Love * Understanding our purpose in life * Song -- how it influences our lives

Naomi glanced at her watch. It would need several hours to cover even half of what was promised in the brochure. Women sitting near her seemed to have similar doubts. "It all sounds so marvelous till you get home. But there, things are completely different and the battle is over almost before it has begun," muttered one woman.

"The truth," voiced another one, "is that the topics are very convincing, but will it make any difference in our lives?"

As the loudspeaker came to life, the babble subsided. A pleasant looking, middle-aged woman stood on the stage. She did not look quite like a professional qualified to discuss all the topics in the brochure.

"Good evening, ladies," she began. "I want to begin with the story which lies behind my doctrine in life." When they heard the word `story,' the women relaxed and sat back in their seats.

"I see your expectant faces and I can really identify with you," she continued. "I searched, too. Oh, how I searched. I looked for quality of life. I wanted to become a better, calmer person, cheerful and patient. My quest turned into an obsession. Lectures, workshops, nature foods, swimming, aerobics, brisk walking each night. I tried them all. I am convinced that my theory will be a significant shortcut for all of you, and for myself." The audience nodded or murmured their assent.

"First of all," she proceeded, "I must enlarge on the subject matter a little." The lecturer began to draw a magnificent word picture of how to develop optimism. "Just look at the multitude of wonderful things around us, even if you're awaken by a wailing baby, just as you have dropped off to sleep at two in the morning. Look at all the things we have; these things are there for us all."

She then proceeded to expand on the importance of self- esteem. "Every morning, tell yourself: `You're great. You're the greatest. You're good; you're wonderful.'" From there she went on to describe how, when we have done our utmost to make the budget stretch, we should relax. Livelihood is not in our hands; we have to try to cope with the `have' part of our budget, not with the `have not.'

"That's it," thought Naomi. "They're handing me golden wings with which to glide and climb over and above all my problems." She waited impatiently to hear how she could actually acquire all these goals. Just as the audience began to fidget and show signs of impatience, the lights of the auditorium were dimmed and the lecturer switched on a large overhead projector. Her voice, which up to now had been powerful and charismatic, changed to a confidential whisper, as if she were imparting a secret.

"To tell you the truth, I am a little embarrassed to tell you how I stumbled upon this secret. One summer evening, as I was out walking, I noticed a bundle of pages lying on the ground. I picked them up and took them home with me. They were in Russian, which I happen to have studied a while ago. I studied the pages and was mesmerized by sentences full of hope and promise, strong forceful words. At that time, I was practicing positive thinking, but felt that these pages were along an entirely different track. If I were to start each morning with affirmation, reading the texts on these sheets, the messages would become part of my brain and my life would be renewed each morning. I've had my fill of lectures, relaxation classes and other fads. This was wonderful. Why had nobody thought of this program before?

"I studied the pages more closely, wondering how they had come to rest on the sidewalk. The numbers were not consecutive, yet the style was not disjointed. I read them again and suddenly it hit me like a bolt out of the blue. These pages were a Russian translation of the siddur! I had been saying these words each morning for dozens of years! Could it be? Could someone say words each and every day without knowing or realizing what s/he was saying? I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself. And I had thought I was davening with kavona... I opened up my thick files, full of ideas and lists, and compared them to the siddur. You will see my conclusions on the screen."

The heads turned as one to face the screen. "Optimistic Awakening" was printed in bold red letters. Underneath were the words, "Modeh ani lefonecha..."

"Someone who is content gives thanks," whispered the lecturer. "If he is giving thanks, he must feel content. Someone who reiterates, `I thank You' to his Maker the minute he wakes up knows that he is being taken care of all day. Is there any greater feeling of security?"

The next slide with its bright red caption, read, "Encouraging Personal Ability." Underneath were the words "Neshoma shenosata bi."

"Let us consider for a moment the implications of these words. My soul, full of imperfections, is pure. When I returned it to my Maker last night, it was tired, sullied. But now, my soul, which means my very essence, is again pure. It has been returned to me revitalized with renewed strength and vigor to face a new successful day."

Now the slides followed each other in quick succession, before the audience was able to absorb their entire content. "Managing on a Limited Budget." And underneath, "Poseiach es Yodecha..." To know for a fact that there is Someone Who opens His hand to satisfy us, Who gives us strength to cope even when money is very tight, and there isn't enough to go around at the moment.

The speaker embellished some of the slides with stories and anecdotes, but the message was loud and clear. Appreciate the daily miracles of daily living, breathing, walking, seeing and hearing, as found in our very siddur. Modim anachnu Loch..." Know that you are beloved and that He provides for your every need... Ahava rabba ahavtonu..."

The audience listened intently as the woman concluded, "I could go on and on, but I leave it to you to develop my theme, each in your own way. One quarter of an hour's concentration while reciting this `text' which has helped generations for thousands of years, will revitalize you -- like the morning dew."


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