Then at one point, I decided to replace my somewhat modest skirts with truly modest skirts.
The truly modest skirts made me look fatter, but otherwise they were nice-looking. And most importantly of all, they fulfilled halachic requirements.
So they were nice-looking skirts, but I figured that the fat-effect was just part of sacrificing for a mitzvah and even good for me (because I needed to choose halacha over the shifting definitions of beauty.)
Yet a couple of days after this not-cheap self-sacrificing purchase, I noticed that one of the zippers on the new skirt had already busted. Because it was in the back, I'd been walking around with an open zipper without even knowing it. (It wasn't so bad because I wear long shirts, but still.)
Of course, my mind briefly and instinctively hopped to the usual facades of despair: You can't count on Israeli stores to sell you decent merchandise (i.e., this happened because I made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael - a very big mitzvah!), why am I being punished for doing something You claim You WANT?, why does this kind of thing always happen to me? (even though it actually doesn't ALWAYS happen), and so on.
I managed to stop my anti-emuna thoughts (but not my disgruntled feelings), and brought it to a seamstress, who fixed it in a few days.
Then the mild annoyance was over and I've worn them ever since.
Falling Down into Defeat
- "See? It wasn't worth it after all."
- "This just shows how needlessly extreme I can get about things."
- "My former skirts were fine, especially compared to what most women wear. Why do I need to be such a fanatic?"
- "Keeping Torah can cause so much aggravation."
- "This is too much trouble. Just forget it. I'm going back to my old skirts, which weren't so bad compared to everyone else."
- "This is a sign from God that I don't need to go to this extreme. I'm going back to my old skirts."
And though it's not mentioned as much, Judaism also obligates men to pay attention to the dignity and refinement of their clothes.
True Motivations Revealed
What would I be saying?
I'd be saying that I don't REALLY care about dressing spiritually. I don't really care about the halacha.
Maybe I just wanted to feel frum or halachically superior. Maybe I'd heard a particularly inspiring class on the importance of tsnius and I wanted the merits promised, but not enough to really keep to the proper standards.
Maybe my desire for more tsnius skirts was just fleeting inspiration, and not a reflection of my heart's desire.
If you really want something, if it's REALLY important to you and you are sincere about it, then you keep going with it -- even when it's difficult or inconvenient.
And in much bigger things than skirts, sometimes Hashem withholds fulfillment of a request because you need more prayer and chesbon hanefesh to be really ready for it.
When You're Just Not Ready - Yet
Yes, even after all that desperate pleading, they don't really appreciate what they have or what they need to do to keep it. It's a certain lack of gratitude, no?
I've also seen singles and childless couples who, based on the unrealistic demands and expectations they express, are clearly not ready for marriage or children. Their ego-desires control them and may Hashem protect the people who marry or are born to such people.
And it's also true that people who marry or desire children for all the wrong reasons often get a spouse or a baby right away. It's seems like a big chessed, but in some ways, it's not. Some people benefit from waiting and refining themselves in the meantime.
As mentioned in previous posts, Hashem sometimes desires to save a person from himself, and therefore withholds the object of their desire until they are ready (or until they are more ready).
Having said all that, yes, of course I also see people who seem so ready for what they want. So I'm flummoxed as to why Hashem doesn't give it to them.
There is so much we don't know and so much we cannot perceive.
The point is that there are reasons for not fulfilling our requests right away. There are also many more reasons than those discussed here.
But I know I have more work to do before I can merit them. When I discussed it with Hashem, He let me know what was holding me back regarding one thing I've requested for years. And it's a tall order. But I see His point and even with my limited understanding, I even agree.
Yet other things -- really good things, according to the Torah -- aren't being given...yet. And I don't see why.
I don't like it, but there are things I neither know nor understand.
And that's exactly how it's supposed to be.
It's good. It doesn't feel good. But it's still good.