In the brief break between the Shabbos and last two Yom Tovs of Pesach…I was cooking up a storm. My husband’s mind, however, was elsewhere. He’d found IT. The Shabbat RV 2.0 that he’d been looking for. And, he needed to wrap things up as much as possible before the Yom Tov began…on what was a major holiday for everyone else around us, Easter Sunday.
To say he was a little stressed is an understatement.
He felt the full weight of his family’s trust on his shoulders as he worked through paperwork and phone calls. Finally, he called his father for a little financial advice. This is almost more stressful than everything else combined. My husband hasn’t always had the warmest relationship with his father and stepmother, but it’s gotten better since I met him. His father loves him and has a hard time connecting with him since they are both so different. However, he loves it when my husband asks his advice and he has good experience to draw on when it comes to financial matters, so my husband called him.
Me? I was juggling 3 things cooking at once and my 11-year-old daughter who was starting to come down with something. I didn’t have a spare brain cell to process much.
When he hung up the phone and came back to talk to me, I could tell it had been an interesting conversation. He went through the financial aspects and his plan, which all sounded logical, then he took a deep breath.
“And he wanted to know why we’re doing all this, up here, when there’s no chance of us finishing it up here.”
He didn’t need to explain what “this” was. You see, Mr. Safek’s father is a happy secular Jew. He occasionally will attend Synagogue services on major holidays at a Reform Synagogue, but part of the reason he and Mr. Safek’s mother didn’t work out was due to differences in observance. She always wanted to be more observant and he always wanted to be less. He’s never quite understood why his son should care what Orthodox Rabbis think of his halakhic status or why we’ve gone through what we’ve gone through trying to change that.
I know that these kind of conversations are difficult for my husband. No one can make you doubt yourself like a well-meaning parent. His father knows the pain we’ve gone through, the years of work without a light at the end, and doesn’t want to see us suffer more. His intentions are kind. To him, it didn’t make sense to try to observe Shabbat somewhere it is so difficult to do so, particularly when the odds of it resulting in us converting here are low and we’ll probably just have to start over again with a new Rabbi when we move. However, doubt is a luxury we can’t afford these days, with the price of hope so high.
I tell my husband all the good reasons we have and that we cannot know how this all will play out. Maybe we can’t convert until we move, as we suspect. At least by doing things this way, we’ll be more prepared when we do move. Then, there’s the question…is observance really about conversion? If we’re only observing mitzvos with some end goal in mind, is that really the point of it all? Shouldn’t we observe Shabbat…as an example…simply to observe Shabbat?
It’s true, we have no control over the timeline or outcome. We can’t push or pull this along in any way. We are at the mercy of the whims of Rabbis and Rabbinical courts. But…we also have to trust that G-d is in charge above it all and that He will guide us to where we need to be when the time is right. There is only a tiny fraction of a part of all this that we have any control over…and that’s ourselves. We can continue to learn and grow in observance and teach our family. And that’s it. We can’t know anything beyond that.
Our daughter, sickly as she was getting, had the best response to the news about the Shabbat RV 2.0. She simply said, “Yay! No more breaking Shabbos!”
Yes. And that is why we’re doing this up here, whether it has any chance of bringing a tangible result or not. It’s because we want to be as close to Shomer Shabbos as we can be in this state and observe as many mitzvos as we can. The truth is…there is no finish line and this is something we’ll need to work on beyond conversion for the rest of our lives, continuing to grow and learn and do better at observing mitzvos. There is no time to waste catching up and, one day, somewhere, our halakhic status will also catch up.