I used to daven for Mashiach in a perfunctory way; it was built into my Shemoneh Esrei and vernacular by rote, as more of a nod to the “Ani Ma’amin” that has way too many tunes.
We say it daily: “Blow the big shofar for our freedom … gather in our exiles;” “Plant the seed of David’s redemption;” “Bring us back to Yerushalayim.” I mostly meant it, but it was usually more habit and vague belief than need.
Galus can feel like a pretty tolerable place when you’re with your loved ones. But it’s only when they leave unexpectedly that you pray for a change. The unshakable discomfort and the knowledge that you’re no longer like everyone else causes you to yearn for newness. Or what you once had.
Every erev yontif, the familiar lump forms in my throat. It happens usually a week before the holiday, and while I busy myself with cooking or packing my family to spend the holiday at a table not our own, I feel reflective and emotional.
I’m surprised at my emotional state and wonder how many years I’ll be this way, but I feel like I set myself up for it because of the things I think about. The problem is that I can’t un-think these thoughts.
I wish I were just wondering if I have enough side dishes or desserts, but that’s now far from my source of worry. Oh, how I miss those quotidian worries.
Usually, it’s spotting the small ugly brown suitcase in my room that sets off the domino effect in my mind and heart, and then it’s too late to go back to the mundane things I worry about on a daily basis. Because seeing that suitcase during this time of year brings me back to a time when I used it only for the occasional Shabbos away from Moshe and the family. It brings me crashing back to our uncomfortable reality that even my friends and family can’t possibly understand.
My yearning for a complete family with my husband and kids back together is similar to the yearning for Hashem to end the current galus we’re in. One where Mashiach can take his post at long last and we can all be reunited with our lost loved ones.
It’s hard to expect people who haven’t lived through loss to get their mind there, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Though I’d give anything to go back to my life before all this happened, I also somehow feel lucky to know what the feeling of desperately wanting something is. The want is so bad, so desperate, that I plead and beg. I cry for my life back.
I know there are people who understand this all too well and there are those who will, fortunately, never get it. It’s how we need to enter into this holiday — praying fervently for an end to illness and suffering, begging Hashem for geulah.
One of the 10+ reasons brought down for blowing shofar this time of year is a reminder of the great shofar that will herald Mashiach’s arrival. As a child, to me that meant visions of white donkeys, eagles’ wings, and a shiny new Temple. Now I picture my kids reuniting with their dad.
Another reason for shofar is that it sounds like crying; the word “shevarim” literally means breaking. The merit of sobbing that transcends words grants our prayers more Divine mercy than the fattest Machzor.
The word shofar also means to improve, or make more beautiful. Our tefillos, our teshuvah, our yearning beautify us and the world in the eyes of our Creator, the mournful united blasts beseeching salvation that we so badly need.
It’s the type of mascara-smearing prayer that might make us self-conscious in its intensity, but if it’s a necessary means to an end to this current climate — to young fathers leaving their families involuntarily and tragically, to the pain and suffering we’re all witnessing more and more frequently — then I’m willing to try.
Join me this yontif in pleading with Hashem to grant us the yeshuah we need now, more than ever before, globally and personally.
Wishing you all a g’mar v’chasimah tovah and a good new year, one in which we will be deserving to hear the shofar of Mashiach, speedily, in our time.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.