Gesher Tzar Me’od

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo Gesher tear tzar me’od

V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;

the important thing is not to be afraid.

–Rabbi Nachman of Braslav

These were the words that I sang last night at the Western Wall in the early hours of Shabbat.  With 400 other Jewish mothers.  With dozens and dozens of female Israeli soldiers.  These women, who look still like girls, sang this song with such passion and enthusiasm.  They put their arms around each other and around all of us and danced and sang that the important thing is not to be afraid.  The next time I am afraid or unsure, I will close my eyes and see the bright faces of these women and their love for each other and for Israel and I am positive that I will feel calm and good.

This day was rich beyond words.  I spent the morning looking at the passage of Breshit (Genesis) that refers to Eve as Adam’s helpmate.   This section always aggravates me.  Our teacher, Nili Couzens, gave me a different perspective.  She talked about what being a helper is.  We turn to experts for help – teachers, doctors, lawyers – someone who has something that we need that we don’t have.  That got my attention.  Then she  talked about how mothers play a special role in their family.  I’m so resistant to this idea.  I don’t know if it’s the burden of thinking that I play a role that no one else can or not wanting to be pigeon holed into a certain role, but I could feel the chip on my shoulder weighing heavily.  Yet, what she said next is true for me.  She talked about how mothers are the battery pack for their families.  That we set the emotional tone.  I don’t know if this is true for all mothers.  I don’t even know if it is true for my family all the time.  But I DO know that I have been aware for almost every day of the 15.5 years that I have been a mother. It is quite a powerful thing.  My mood can lift the kids and Pascal and it can also bring them down quite swiftly.  Sometimes, I feel it as a burden.  Often, I feel it as an opportunity to bring what is bright and sparkly about me to my family. I can’t think of anything I am more than a powerful force for good.  What a privilege that I get to offer the very best of me to my family.   I love that I sat in a room this morning with about 200 other women who seemed to feel the same way about themselves.  I love that we embraced it as our power and also understood the need to take care of ourselves carefully because of that.

There are so many ideas and experiences that I will take home from this trip, but this idea feels like the most exciting and important one of all for me.