Etrogcello for Tu BiShvat
Caring for others, caring for ourselves - a d'var Torah for parashat Yitro

How to have a Wednesday

Wake up before the alarm.
Linger in bed for five more minutes.
Shower. Recite Modah Ani in the shower. Dress.
Listen for the toddler: not making any noise.
Good, a few minutes to check email. Check email. Respond.
Close up laptop, go downstairs, enter the toddler's room.
Watch him sleep, a comma curled at one end of his crib, breathing slow and steady.
Feel tenderness. Feel regret at having to turn off the white-noise machine.
Listen to his breathing change and his babble begin.
Chat with him. Change his diaper.
Pull a green shirt with a moose on it out of the drawer.
When he refuses it, put it back and look for a blue shirt, per his request.
Feel relief that he accepts a shirt with blue stripes.
Give him goldfish. Play with trains.
Pile him in the car, go to daycare, drop him off.
Drive north to the coffee shop.
Get a cup of joe and a bagel with chive cheese.
Read email again. Respond.
Meet with colleagues. Talk about life. Study some Torah.
Talk about possible themes for Shavuot. Inside / outside. Otherness. Harvest.
Meet with the youth group leader to plan a trip to the big city.
Feel chagrin about not having time to dedicate to the youth group.
Remind yourself again that this is a half-time job.
Answer more email. Tell a friend you love him.
Dash to the high school. Find the principal's office.
Meet there with two principals and another rabbi to talk about diversity.
Discuss the invisible backpack of privilege, Anne Frank, living color.
Emerge into the sunshine. Head to the grocery store.
Choose fruits with shells, fruits with pits, fruits which are soft all the way through.
Nab a plate from the salad bar because no way is there time for lunch.
Stop at the liquor store, pick out some wine with pictures of trees on the label.
Chat with the salesman about the bourbon made just down the road.
Race to synagogue. Unload the groceries. Eat lunch at the desk.
Cringe to notice your lousy posture (again) and your kinked-up back (again.)
Choose green tablecloths for the seder table.
Pick up fallen branches from the woods behind the building, for a centerpiece.
Trim the centerpiece because otherwise it's going to poke people in the eyes.
Answer email. Schedule a puppet-making workshop.
Research blessings for aging. Dig up Reb Zalman's Elder Creed.
Realize you don't have a text for Torah study this week.
Browse a few different books before deciding to check out Kedushat Levi.
Translate a short text. Ponder the translation. Revise for clarity.
Dig up a citation and read that. Format a handout. Answer email.
Take a phone call, offer condolences, feel sorrow.
Take another phone call, say yes of course there's always room at the table,
run out to move the tables and add more chairs.
Make five more copies of the haggadah for Tu BiShvat, collate, staple.
Send an email about a shiva minyan.
Make a handout for Shabbat morning.
Tidy the sanctuary. Drag the classroom table out, set the chairs back in semicircles.
Practice guitar chords. Finish setting the Tu BiShvat table.
Take a phone call from a woman in dire straits a thousand miles away.
Offer her a blessing for her luck to turn, promise to do what you can.
Wish you had any idea how to verify her story. Wish you had money to send.
Rub your eyes, which feel gritty and leaden.
Put on your coat, go outside, daven mincha.
Marvel that at 5pm it is not dark. Know that spring is coming.
Change gears. Welcome people into the building.
Celebrate Tu BiShvat with a potluck seder.
Know that the sap is rising: in the maples, in the cosmic tree of life.
Know that we can eat in a way which creates healing on high.
Wonder whether you've communicated these things with anyone.
Talk about foreign languages; attempt to answer a Harry Potter riddle.
Drive home, too late to see the toddler.
Thank your in-laws for looking after him.
Have a glass of wine.