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Help! Triplets Locked in the Bathroom!

Thursday, 5 December, 2019 - 11:20 pm

It was Shabbat morning and my one-year-old triplets were messing about—playing, laughing, giggling… nothing out of the norm. Their favorite hangout these days seems to be the bathroom, and two of them disappeared inside. Before we knew it, we heard the door slam. We jumped up and ran over, but just as we got there, they locked themselves inside.

To get them out, we tried talking through the door, coaxing the one who had turned the lock to do it now in the opposite direction. Alas, although he had managed to figure out how to lock himself (and his sister!) inside, he was unable to extricate himself. In the meantime, his sister started to cry. 

This was a classic case of pikuach nefesh, when one is not only allowed but actually obligated to violate the Shabbat. So I called the building super who dashed over and broke the lock and the door, enabling us to get the kids out. Whew!

After we calmed the kids (and ourselves!), I started to think, isn’t this the story of our lives? We get ourselves stuck in bad habits but struggle to extricate ourselves. Sometimes it seems like we really cannot get out at all. 

It’s easy to get into the habit of waking up late, but it’s a lot harder to get back on track. It’s easy to get used to running late; it’s far harder to become punctual. We can complain and complain, but how do we actually fix it? It’s no secret most of us make endless resolutions to improve our behavior and break bad habits, but how often do we succeed in following through? It’s a lot harder than it seems!  

In this week’s parshah, Yaakov is 63 years old when he is forced to begin a new life, away from everyone he knows and loves, away from his mother and father, and everything that is familiar to him. He has to break his familiar cycle and start new habits elsewhere, in a foreign environment, among people he doesn’t know.

To make such changes after 63 years would require immense effort, he knew. So what did he do? He lifted his eyes Heavenward and says, “G-d, I will do this with your help.” And that’s what we can and should do, too. We need to put forth our best effort, but also acknowledge that we can’t do it without His help. When we humble ourselves, recognize that we are not really in charge, and ask for His help, we can start to make strides in the right direction. Try it; you’ll see it works. 

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