High School Follies: “An Open Letter to the Girls in My Class”

This, for once, I did not write. The girl who wrote it likely would not stand by her words today – sanctimonious as they are! To  be fair, though, the structure of this piece is quite good (if a bit long). She is a talented writer, even now. (Yes, I’m still in touch with her… I won’t link to her work, though – she can do that in the comments if she’d like!)

I am in the middle of davening [praying]. The words of shemoneh esrei seem to leap out of the page at me. Baruch atah Hashem, magen Avraham – Hashem, You have defended our ancestors so many years past. Please defend our tiny nation against the wolves who would devour us. Baruch atah Hashem, mechaye hameisim – Hashem, please let me be one of those who merit walking upon the physical earth again. [Editorial note: these brachos are supposed to be shevach, not bakasha, but okay.] Atah kadosh – How holy You are, Hashem. How holy is everything You have done, Your holy Torah, Your —

“Your shoes are stunning!” “Thanks.” “Where’d you get them> I want to see what other shoes they have.” “__________, and they were only forty dollars.” “Wow! That is such a good price!”

Atah chonen l’adam da’as – Hashem, I try to do well in school, and please my parents. Please help me succeed. Hasiveinu avinu l’sorasecha – Hashem, there are so many out there who do not know You or Your name Help them discover Yiddishkeit and bring light into their lives. Selach lanu avinu ki chatanu – hashem, forgive us! Forgive us for our sins. We do not mean to do badly, we are sorry —

“I’m so sorry I didn’t call you last night. I meant to, but I don’t know what happened. All of the sudden, the doorbell rings. We ask who it is, and this guy is screaming into the intercom – we all got so scared –”

Re’eh nah b’anyenu – Hashem, see our pain and redeem us from it. It cannot go on this way! Refa’einu hashem v’nairafeh – Hashem, there are so many people out there suffering in hospitals, so many families broken because of illness and accidents. Barech aleinu – Hashem, make this year a blessed one, with only good for Klal Yisroel. Help those out there struggling with parnassah. Baruch atah hashem mekebatez nidchei amo yisroel – Hashem, please, gather us in, return us from —

“Would you believe it? He did not let me return it! He was so nasty! I had the receipt and I was even going to exchange it, but it was a day later than what the store lets. One day! Probably because I wanted something worth like, ten dollars less. Big deal, so he’ll lose ten dollars. Now he lost a customer.”

Hashivah shoftenu k’varishona – Hashem, make it like it once was. Be our King, we love You so much. V’lamalshinim al sehi tikvah – Hashem, so many want to kill us, oblierate us, wipe us off the face of the earth. Save us from their hate, from the killing. Al hatzadikim v’al hachasidim – Hashem, keep the good people out there. Help them inspire us, and let their zchus save —

“Save one for me, I really like those. By the way, what bracha are they? I never figured that out.” “Some people say they’re ho’adama, some say they’re shehakol. It’s really ground so that you can’t see the pieces, so I say shehakol, but then again…”

V’le’Yerushalayim ircha b’rachamim tashuv – Hashem, come back to Yerushalayim, the holy, beautiful city. Es tzemach David avdecha meheira tatzmi’ach – Hashem, please bring the meluch of Beis Dovid to its proper rule ship [sic] and glory. Av harachaman shem koleinu – Hashem, so many of us are pleading for Your help, listen to them, listen to us —

“It is forbidden to listen to any derogatory remarks even concerning little children, unless there is a beneficial purpose to your listening, such as a parent listening to a teacher in order to correct the child’s behavior.”

V’sechezenah eineinu b’shuvcha l’tzion b’rachamim – Hashem, more than anything, You know, deep down, we really want Moshiach, even though we forget it in our every day lives. Modim anachnu lach – Hashem, thank You. Thank You for the goodness in our lives, for the fresh, clean, cold air, for water, for family, for Yom Tov —

“I’m so excited Yom Tov is coming up, we finally get vacation.” “Yeah, we have so much home work –” “Not only the homework, school itself — I come home so exhausted –”

Baruch atah hashem hatov shimcha u’lecha na’eh l’hodos – Thank You Hashem again, for the good of every day, for making us Jews. Sim shalom tova u’vracha – Hashem, let there be peace, real inner peace. Elokai netzor lishoni mei’ra – Hashem, help me not speak evil. Help me perfect my middos. Help me be a better person. help me not be jealous of anyone. Help no one be jealous of —

“I am so jealous of you! You are so lucky! I have been dying to go to Eretz Yisroel. My brothers and sisters always go, but for some reason, I can never go. I wish I could go. You are also getting off two weeks of school. Lucky…”

Do not let my yetzer hara — “Maybe I can come along…” Make me not brag — “I can fit in your suitcase…” Build Your city — “I’m small…” Gather us in for Moshiach — “But hey, I weigh more than seventy pounds…” Do it for Your name — “Maybe I shouold go in your carry on: they don’t check those…” Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet!

You don’t realize I know. You don’t realize there’s a whole wide world out there (the hallway would be fine) where you could go to talk. Where your words won’t grate on my ears as I try to talk to Hashem. I know you think it’s just one sentence. Sometimes even I slip up. I try to forgive you: I even think I do. But who knows how much my tefillah could have accomplished had my concentration been complete. We would have both benefitted. Only Hashem knows. Only Hashem knows… and maybe punishes us for what we ruined? Maybe — maybe because you didn’t let me daven?

— Any girl in any class in any school

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