Instead of joining my family for Purim seudah this year, we went to a close friend who had invited us. Turns out that she wanted me to meet one of the other guests, a woman with three small children who had just moved into the neighborhood after getting a divorce. Because I had been in that exact same situation a few years ago, my friend was hoping that I could find a way to help this woman get through this difficult time in her life.
Luckily, I found her to be smart and pleasant to talk to. She is very upfront about the challenges that she is facing, and she is open to making new friends and accepting help. We exchanged phone numbers, and I plan on giving her a call in a few days.
The thing is, I know just what this woman is going through. I know how hard it is to start over again with 3 little children and no money. I know all about the guilt that a mother feels when she realizes that her children will be growing up without a father around. I know what the endless sleepless nights are like, worrying about the bills and the kids and whether you have the strength to do it all alone. And I know how hard it can be to ask for help even when you need that help desperately.
I remember a story that was told on The West Wing:
A guy falls into a ditch and he can't get out. He looks up and sees his old friend walking by. "Hey, buddy" he calls. "I'm stuck in this ditch. Can you help me?" The friend says "sure" and jumps down into the ditch with him. "Why did you do that?" the man exclaims. "Now we're both in the ditch!" "Yeah" says his friend. "But I've been in this hole before, and I know the way out."
I do know the way out. I just hope that I can turn that experience into words of wisdom that will help this very nice but overwhelmed woman reach the finish line.
Weinstein, Mayim Bialik and the Perils of Religious Instruction - *I wrote the following for my Beit Midrash's weekly email, and on reflection I'd like to get feedback from a broader population, so I'm reproducing it here...
5 hours ago