The year has flown by faster than the airplane turnover at Ben Gurion airport. Rosh Hashana is in a couple of days, and I’m trying to distract myself from it by preparing Iraqi Apple Jam and planning menus. The more difficult and foreign the recipe the better, although I inevitably end up returning to my usual, well tested recipes that I can make in my sleep. This is how the New Year ends up as well. I begin with many good intentions and then revert to my usual, well tried and tested self.
I become frustrated and that inner critic – yetzer hara rants and rages at me for not being better, trying harder, succeeding more. But this year I’m not having it. The over riding message over the past couple of month has been that ‘There’s no such thing as perfect. We’re all human.’
Living with flawed humanity is giving up on a lot of fantasies. It all began with a summer family holiday, where I had to admit to myself that there is no such thing as the perfect holiday, with perfect behaviour from the kids. The children will fight, they will whine and whinge, they will complain when we go to museums and they will say repeatedly, ‘This is boring.’ So I let go of my unrealistic expectations and I catered to their gelato needs. We all got on better and had fun in between the fights.
I’m also working on being curious about the humanity of others. Half of Israel came with us to Italy and it was interesting to see Israelis out of their comfort zones. We bumped into them everywhere.
My five year old collided into another boy whilst biking the city of Lucca’s wall (this is a must family activity). The mother was very apologetic and amongst the wails, I heard their Hebrew. I told her that I also live in Israel. She then said something that stayed with me, ‘No one likes us.’ And my heart went out to her. Israelis are just human and most of them are really nice, and I’m slowly learning that the abrasive, abrupt ones, who give Israelis a bad name, can also be really nice if you look beyond their rough surface to their humanity. (Although, yes I have to admit, some people are just plain mean, but we need to forgive them for sanity’s sake.)
When I look for the fragile humanity in others I’m less judgmental. The other day, I gave well intentioned, (and what I thought was sound), advice to someone close to me. They turned around and said, ‘Who are you to judge me? You don’t know what it’s like to be me.’ It hurt to hear it but they reminded me that it’s not my place to judge, or give advice to anybody.
It’s not an easy resolution. It’s much easier to cook.
But it’s a necessary decision, because when I dig deeper I see that I need to have compassion for others and also for myself. For my own humanity; my faults and mistakes which are just as much a part of me as my good points. Rabbi Ian Pear, of Shir Chadash Jerusalem, in a shiur last night, said that our mistakes are where our greatest creativity comes from. ‘To err is not only human but divine.’
It was the perfect summary of what I’ve been experiencing. I choose to recognise and accept my human frailty. And most of all, be kinder to myself so that I can be kinder to others.
So this years motto is, ‘Relax, chill out and be kind, be kind, be kind.’
Shana Tova – A Blessed, Sweet, Kinder Year to all of You!
One clear kindness that anyone can do for themselves is make this delicious, easy parve Lotus Chocolate recipe that I learnt from a Jerusalem Shabbat table. It’s the perfect ending to any meal with tea and coffee and nobody can believe that they’re parve.
- 1 x Jar of Regular or Crunchy Lotus Spread (This is a parve spread made from Lotus caramelised biscuits.)
- 4 x 100g Elite dark, parve chocolate (or any good quality parve chocolate)
- Lotus Biscuits – grated for topping
- Melt Lotus Spread and Chocolate in a double boiler.
- Spread melted mixture on baking paper in a tin and sprinkle with grated Lotus Biscuit. Refrigerate until firm.
- Cut chocolates into squares and store in fridge or freezer.