Elul 18: Ask

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 29 August 2018 @ 12:05 am

Photo credit: Syda Productions

A Jewish grandmother and her grandson are at the beach. He’s playing in the water; she is standing on the shore not wanting to get wet. All of the sudden, a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly onto the spot where the boy is wading. The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. He was swept away.

The bubbe (grandmother) raises her hands to the sky and screams: “Ribono Shel Olam (Master of the World), how could you? Haven’t I been a devoted mother? Haven’t I kept a kosher home? Haven’t I given tzdeakah? Haven’t I bentch licht (lit the candles) every Friday night? Haven’t I tried my very best to live my life as You would want? All I ask is for you to return my zissele (sweet one).”

A VOice booms for the sky: “Alright already!” A moment later, another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there. He is smiling and splashing around as if nothing had ever happened.

The Voice booms again: “I have returned your grandson. Are you satisfied?”

The grandmother responds: “He had a hat.”

“All I ask….”

It reminds me of this line (Psalm 27:4) from the psalm we recite daily during the month of Elul:

אַחַ֤ת ׀ שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהוָה֮ אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־יְ֭הוָה כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־יְ֝הוָ֗ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ׃

*One thing I ask of the ETERNAL, only that do I seek: to live in the house of the ETERNAL all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the ETERNAL, to frequent God’s temple.

All I ask. Or, the one thing I ask.

One thing? Who has only ever asked God for one thing? That doesn’t even seem possible. I strive to be the kind of person who seeks nothing more from God than to dwell in God’s Presence for my eternal days.

That is a person who yearns for nothing.
Who fears nothing.

That person is not me.

I’ve often said, “God is not some Giant Vending Machine in the Sky.” God isn’t a disc jockey (are they even still called disc jockeys anymore?) taking and granting requests. Or a concierge catering to your every desire.

But maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe God IS a Vending Machine and just like in real life, I put in the request only to get what the machine has decided to spit out.

Do I keep asking?

*Hebrew text and translation courtesy of Sefaria.org.


#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Rebecca Klempner 29 August 2018 @ 3:21 pm at 3:21 pm

This is so what I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve been asking. Like, if you are going to beg, what is worth begging for?

Like, maybe G-d is kinda like a vending machine, but maybe you have to pick which vending machine you are going to stick your money in and as you drop the quarter in the slot, there’s a note: MANAGEMENT NOT RESPONSIBLE WHEN ITEM REFUSES TO DROP.


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