Women of Uman
Rosh Hashanah is the seed for the whole year, when everything is determined. So if the seed is full of blessing and holiness, the rest of the year must follow...
Let’s get real. I’m a mother of five. Boys. FIVE. I’m also a working woman, a personal chef, a maid, a referee, an animal tamer, and a private chauffeur. I fold laundry and pick up Lego’s for fun. Thank G-d, I recently remembered that I’m a person too, so I exercise every day and play piano when I can. I’m a busy woman. I’m exhausted, overworked, and underpaid.
And I know I’m in good company.
All of us are bombarded with tons of responsibilities these days. Long gone are the days where women spent most of their time doing laundry by hand (yikes!) and cooking everything from scratch. Working, taking care of the house, the kids, the husband, and ourselves – all that takes a tremendous amount of effort.
Many of us are fortunate enough to rely on our husbands for help, at least some of the time. But even more importantly, many of us are extremely fortunate to have husbands that are with us on Shabbat and the holidays.
Ever since I married David, he has been traveling. He used to travel from Miami to Dallas every single week, leaving early Monday morning and returning late Thursday night. Every. Single. Week. Finally, when our second son was about a year old, I decided that enough was enough and he should get a job in Miami. I figured he had too much fun spending the majority of his weeks free from the burdens of family life and being married to me.
Seven years ago, the travel started to pick up again, when he began organizing Rav Brody’s tours around the world. Even though we still lived in Miami, he would travel for weeks at a time, usually three or four times a year. Almost eight years later, he’s still traveling about four times a year.
So I know what it’s like to spend Shabbat alone. I know what it’s like to spend Rosh Hashanah alone. It’s not fun. It feels like there is a hole in our family. I gotta tell you, it’s very lonely.
If my husband were traveling for work, what would I say? Don’t go? How would he make a living if I didn’t let him go? That would be crazy, right? So many wives let their husbands travel, and for long periods of time, because they know that this is the way their husbands can provide for their families. They’re not happy about it (hopefully,) but they deal with it, because they know that when he comes back, it means he’s making money to support the family. And he’s bringing back lots of new workout clothes and fake bling.
But when it comes to spirituality, many wives protest. What’s the point of leaving the family for a holiday? After all, aren’t holidays meant to be spent with family? And if you’re in Israel, how in the world can you leave to go to the Ukraine, of all places? To spend Rosh Hashanah surrounded by non-Jews who hate you?
Believe me, I understand. It goes against all logic to let my husband leave me alone with my kids, without my family, without many friends to enjoy the meals with. It’s not easy.
I do it for many reasons, but the most important two I will share with you. First, Rebbe Nachman promises that whoever spends Rosh Hashanah with him will not have to see the face of Gehinnom. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to sell me right there. I also don’t know of any other tzaddik that gives such a promise. Does anyone know what Gehinnom looks like? Well I don’t either, but I have a feeling it doesn’t look like the sun-drenched coast of Malibu. And who needs such a painful cleansing to clean us up from all of the spiritual garbage we collected over our lifetimes? No, thanks.
Second reason: Rebbe Nachman also promises that whoever is with him for Rosh Hashanah will not have to come back in another reincarnation. Seriously?? Does anyone out there need a better reason??
I certainly don’t want to come back! I don’t want to go through the pains of growing up all over again. I don’t want to be at the mercy of another set of parents (or parent), I don’t want to go through another 18 years of school, I don’t want to go through the pain of adolescence, looking for a mate, etc.
And that’s if I reincarnate in another middle-income Jewish family! Who knows what we’ll come back as? A baby born to a crack-addicted mother? A Bedouin camel driver? An African woman with AIDS? A dog? A cockroach??
The thought of a future reincarnation should be terrifying to all of us! The wise ones do what they can to prevent this at all costs.
Ladies, my point isn’t to scare you into letting your husbands go. I just want to enlighten you as to the amazing, awesome level of tzaddik we’re talking about here. To give such a promise – a genuine promise – that’s worth more than all the money in the world! Just the fact that your husbands have an opportunity to pray near the grave site of such a holy soul should have you booking him a ticket right away!
I can’t promise you that the following year will be a year free of challenges and difficult times. But I can tell you that my life has completely changed, and each year I see more and more blessings. How can I be sure that all of the blessings come from Rosh Hashanah? Simple. Rosh Hashanah is the seed for the whole year, when everything is determined for the entire following year. So if the seed is full of blessing and holiness, the rest of the year must follow.
You are strong women; so much stronger than you give yourselves credit for. Let your inner strength shine. You can go without your husbands for a few days. You will be okay, I promise. Remember, Rebbe Akiva’s wife let him learn Torah for 24 years without returning home! 24 years! So what are a few days in comparison?
Know that if you do send your husbands to Uman, all of the tremendous blessings that will result will be in your merit. And that is something that you should be very proud of.