Carolyn Steinman

Letting Go

I realised that calling this blog “stacking the dishwasher or other signs of being a control freak” was way too long.

But my dishwasher experience really was a light bulb moment. I opened the dishwasher and saw that yet again he who will not be named, had ingeniously stacked bowls next to plates so that neither would wash properly. And then the spoons were upside down restricting the free flow of water through the cutlery basket. Breathe I told myself gently. And more sternly: really?! Does it even matter!?

As we enter the month of Elul, the last month of my last year in chutzla aretz, we also prepare for the Yamim Noraim. It’s at this time in our Jewish year that we are challenged to come to the realisation that there is only one Master of the Universe.  And there are as many ways to learning this lesson as there are to stacking the dishwasher. Some are just more effective.

As my personal journey of aliyah collides with the spiritual reflection of the month of Elul,  I realise how much those two journeys have in common.

I love telling my students that it is only in Israel that a Jew can be whole. Free to live as an identifying Jew, not cowering in the shadow of anti-Semitism. Empowered to write our history and guide the course of our destiny. And most significantly, to be a part of the unfolding of our story just by living in our Land.

But when one lives fully it requires risk and vulnerability. And letting go of the illusion of control. That is true whether it’s in Israel or chutzla aretz.

This is for me THE most powerful lesson of the process of aliyah and I would guess the reality of the first years on the other side, b’aretz.

I will have no command of Hebrew to express myself as I do now. And my profession is based on communication. Facilitating learning, producing teaching content and articulating strategy.

I will not know how to navigate any of the plethora of bureaucratic organisations Israel disingenuously calls a “system”. Worse I will not be able to articulately ask for help!

I will be reliant on the goodwill of others to guide and assist me. I will need to channel my inner Israeli chutzpa which I am told together with a dash of savlanut, guarantees survival.

And isn’t that true of our spiritual growth? We sail through life till it gets bumpy and then realise we are not in control and our plans don’t always match those Hashem has in mind for us.

Slowly, I am learning to let go. Learning to trust that there is a plan for me. I need to be open and vulnerable. And ask the best I can for assistance and guidance to make meaningful choices and see the opportunities that are there.

I am learning that in our spiritual life, as in Israel there will be many ways to stack the dishwasher. Actually, in Israel there may not even be a dishwasher!

About the Author
Carolyn was born in South Africa, lived in Australia and has now realised her dream of making Aliyah. She has taught in schools and university across two continents and four cities. Carolyn, now officially Gavriella, blogs her journey and it’s quirky and profound moments, from one side of the Yarden to the other.