The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah


Posted in holidays, philosophizing, rituals, soulfish, spirituality by Juliet on March 31, 2010

Delicious...and dangerous?

It is a Passover seder tradition to set out a cup of wine for the prophet Elijah (Eliyahu Hanavi.) The rabbis could not agree whether we drink four cups of wine or five during the seder. They came up with a quintessentially Jewish compromise: drink four, and set out the fifth cup for Elijah, who will tell us the answer when he returns to herald the coming of the Messiah.

Fairy? Faerie?

Our older daughter, Eva, lost her first tooth during the summer between kindergarten and first grade. It was spectacularly bad timing that we happened to be reading the Spiderwick books, which feature evil fairies.

“Maybe the tooth fairy will come tonight!” we told her as we showed her how to put her tooth under the pillow.

“You mean she’ll be here, like in our house?” Eva asked. “She’ll see my room?” Even finding a golden dollar coin under her pillow couldn’t relieve her distress at having her personal space invaded by a possibly malevolent three inch tall creature with magical powers and spiky fingernails. (In one of the Spiderwick books, fairies tie a girl to her bed by her hair as she sleeps, as a “prank.”)

Jane, age four, reacted this Passover to the story of Elijah about the same way.

She kept asking, as it grew darker and darker that night, “When is that guy coming?” Two days later she was still worrying.

I tried soothing her.

“He’s not a real, actual guy. He’s not going to walk in.” (Though Orthodox Jews around the globe prayed very fervently at their seder tables this Passover for exactly that thing to happen.)

“Is he pretend?” she asked.

“Well, not really pretend.” Nobody else at the table came to my aid, and to make matters worse, Eva was listening too, in that pretending-not-to-listen way that third graders do.

“He’s more like an idea that we like to think about.”

As the words were coming from my mouth, I thought (silently in my own head, of course): “Like the tooth fairy.”

Whenever people want to point out the ridiculousness of faith in something you can’t see, they say, “So you mean you believe in the tooth fairy? What about the Easter bunny?”

And of course I don’t believe in those things. (And not just because I’m Jewish.) And I do believe in a God that I can’t see, hear, or touch.

I sense God’s presence, and I know. And it’s not the wonderment of a child finding gifts on Christmas morning or digging into the jelly beans at Easter.

It’s what some would call “blind faith,” and though it may be blind, it still is faith.


Manna from Heaven. And learn to type.

Posted in personal growth, philosophizing, spirituality by Juliet on March 11, 2010

I have money issues.

No snickering about money and the Jews.  Or money and bat mitzvahs.

Money is an absolutely legitimate topic to discuss when considering a spiritual journey.

For instance:

  • I don’t earn much of it these days (never mind that I work harder now taking care of two young kids than I ever did at a paid job.)  Scott earns all of the money and for the most part I decide how to spend it.
  • I don’t really like to spend money.  Honestly, sometimes it even makes me a little (lot!) uncomfortable.  I have been known to chicken out and return major purchases.
  • I spend a fair amount of time worrying about money.
  • I have no idea when we will have “enough” money.  Enough money for what, you ask?  For – I don’t know.  To relax.  To let down my guard and enjoy, I guess.

My biggest issue with money is wanting to feel an internal sense of plenty.  Abundance.  Faith and trust that there will always be enough for everyone.


Shmot (Exodus) says that God provided manna to the Jews each morning with the dew as they wandered in the desert.  This food provided everything they needed, and it appeared without fail.  If they tried to set some aside to save for a future day, it would quickly spoil.

In short, manna is a lesson in faith.  In trust.

I want to have an inner security that we will always have what we need.

Sure, I don’t have income now.  But Scott works hard to provide for us.  We have our ups and downs but luckily our ups weigh out more than our downs.  Plus we are good savers. We have life insurance.

What about me?  Flash foward to an alternate future where I am on my own, or even harder, am supporting the kids on my own.

I have a law degree.  I can type.  I need to know that everything will be okay in every possible future scenario, and not having a crystal ball, that’s impossible.  Hence my worry.

I use  worry as a hedge against bad things.  If I’m actively worrying about X right at this moment, I’m preventing it from happening.  I am keeping the earth spinning on its axis.  (You’re welcome.)

I am feeling money-related resentment lately.

Grape juice on the carpet:  I am buying a new carpet!

Broken Burleighware Asiatic Pheasant tea cup:  I am online pricing replacements, plus matching cereal bowls since our crappy old bowls from our wedding registry are all chipped!

Shrunken clothes in the dryer:  I am going back to J. Crew and buying all those cute clothes I drooled over but was afraid to try on when I was at the mall the other day!

Tied in with the resentment is fear.  If I’m afraid we don’t have enough, I’m being silly:  Of course we have enough!  Danger is in letting down my guard.

Or so I fear…