Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shul Guilt

Let me just get through the touchy feely part of this blog and then I'll get to to the good stuff.  Be patient.

Touchy Feely Part of Blog
When I was growing up, my mother insisted on going to shul every week. 

This was not easy for her - this was a woman who got up every morning at 4:30, went to work by 6, was on her feet all day cleaning fish and cutting meat and keeping customers happy and listening to customers kvetching, came home at 6, made dinner and worked on the store billing until 9 at night. 

So by Shabbat no one would have thought anything of it if she slept in.  But she loved shul.  She loved the socializing, the community, the singing, and the sitting with her girls.  I have wonderful, warm memories of sitting with her in shul.

So when my kids got old enough to sit in shul quietly (about 6 or 7), we started to go to shul together and I now have the same warm memories.  Most weeks, at some point they'd let me know they were bored/tired/hungry, but I treasure the memories of sitting in shul with them, giving them a soft, loving touch every 2 seconds (I am a very affectionate mother - I still pat the heads and arms of my grown-up children whenever I can), holding hands, giggling, etc.

Then, b"H, they went off on their own and now I sit in shul by myself, with my contemporaries, and I still love being there.

OK, now - here we go. 

Other Part of Blog
My problem is - every. single. Shabbat. I literally have to force myself to go to shul. 

Why is this?  When I used to go out of the house to work every day, my excuse was, well it's the only day I can just not push myself to go out of the house.

But in my new life I am home every day.  I can sleep in if I want to any day.  I don't have to go out of the house if I don't want to. 

So one would think that, come Shabbat, I'd be thrilled to get dressed and go out.

But here is what goes on in my head - it's a little like the conversation good Gollum has with bad Gollum (if you don't know what I'm talking about, shame on you - go to the link, read it, then watch all 3 movies - you can skip "The Hobbit" as far as I'm concerned - meh - and then come back here):

     "Mmmmm, it would feel so good to get back in bed and read."

     "But you can get back in bed any day of the week, GO TO SHUL."

     "But I have to get dressssssssssssssed [whiny voice] and walk up the big hillllllllll, and it's hot/cold/windy/ outsiiiiiiiiiiiiiide."

     "Stop whining."

     "But maybe just this week....."

     "No!  You know you love it once you are there."

     "But I have to get there and that means I have to get dresssssssssssssed."

Why do I struggle with this every week?  Once I walk out of the building I'm so glad I went.  And I enjoy sitting there, being with my friends, and seeing my husband on the other side of the mechitza, especially now that he does the kohain thing twice every single week, it's like a little bit of a floor show during davening where he's the star.

If any of you have any deep thoughts about this, I'd appreciate it. 

I have no deep thoughts on this (or on most things). The only thing I am sure of is that this whole issue involves the one talent I'm really good at - GUILT.

I'm a professional at guilt.  You can come to me for lessons, although if you are a Jewish woman you could probably teach me a thing or two.

I feel guilty when I spend money.
I feel guilty when I'm not nice enough to my husband.
I feel guilty when I don't spend enough time with my grandchildren/kids/sisters/cousins/friends.
I feel guilty when I play a game on the computer instead of doing something productive.
I feel guilty when I don't make a good supper.
I feel guilty when I don't go to shul and stay home and read instead.

So on the weeks when I do succeed in overcoming the inertia and get myself to shul, I feel great.  On other weeks, I feel guilty.

One thing is for sure - no matter what I do, I will find something to feel guilty about.

Like I said, I'm a professional.  Gotta go play a computer game now. Bye.


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