During the Breslov home-learning series, we did a writing workshop featuring Rebbe Nachman’s story, The Lost Princess. Students submitted a variety of powerful prose and poetry. In this post, see the letter Rachelle Ellis wrote to her younger self. See the previous writings post for poems from Anath Garber, PhD, and Rivka Leah Wax. More to come…Your comments are welcome!
Dear Rachelle by Rachelle Ellis
I know what you’re doing right now: you are lying in bed trying to figure out your daughter. She’s what, eleven now, nearly twelve? You are trying to understand how such deep, profound thinking can be coming from the brain of such a young girl. If she’s this smart now, what are we gonna do with her when she’s older?
You’ve been talking to yourself a lot and I know it’s been really helpful for you. That long commute is good for something besides singing with the radio, right? Well, I have to let you in on a secret: Hashem is listening to everything you say. There’s a special word for the conversations you’ve been having: hitbodedus. I know you’re unfamiliar with the word, but not the concept, you’re pretty good at it. You have analyzed and reanalyzed yourself so many times, and Hashem has heard you. And He understands. And He’s gonna help ya!
Remember the first time she stunned you? You had just moved into the big, new house and she had a big, new bed with plenty of room for Mommy. She was six, headed for first grade, and observant enough to realize that her mommy sometimes had some difficulties talking and moving. You had her lie on her tummy while you ran your fingers up and down her spine, explaining how the brain sends messages out to the body and the body sends messages back to the brain, and sometimes Mommy’s brain sends the wrong messages. Remember what she said?
C’mon, I know you remember. You were tickling her back, up and down, and she asked you –
“Like the angels on Jacob’s ladder?”
Okay, even I can’t remember how you ended up on the floor, stunned into silence, unable to fathom the metaphor she had just presented.
And tonight! She asked such a simple question, she wanted to know why we weren’t keeping kosher since we’re Jewish. You parroted the same answer you received when you asked the same question: it’s old-fashioned, our grandparents couldn’t, and other excuses usually about how difficult it is. And while your answer may not have been original, her response sure was:
“Mommy, that’s stupid!”
So now you’re lying on your big, empty bed, trying to figure out how you are going to keep kosher, and wondering what she will come up with next?
Wish I could reassure you that you are doing all the right things. Wish I could tell you that kashrus is going to be easier than you are expecting. Wish I could tell you that the pains you have been experiencing are only going to require minor surgery and the biopsy will be negative.
And most of all, wish I could tell you that our daughter has grown to be an amazing young woman. She is a teacher, she takes good care of herself, and there is an amazing young man looking for her somewhere. Ya did good!
Somehow, I have a feeling that even then, you knew everything was going to be just fine.