Saturday, September 30, 2006
So tonight we shlugged kapores. Here they are, our beautiful chickens. 3 roosters and 3 hens, one for each of us. It was done in the back of a yeshiva, after shabbos. Tons of people were there. There was a carnival-like atmosphere, when it really should be somber. I guess there's a level of excitement involved, I mean, how often do we get to see live chickens? While we were on line waiting to buy them (20 bucks a bird!), one of them escaped and ran through the yeshiva fence. I cheered him on while the bochurim ran after him.
I said the kapores passages for the girls and myself, while Yaakov shlugged the hens over our heads. He did it for the boys and himself. The good news is, nobody got pooped on. Then we stood on line forever, waiting to watch our chickens get slaughtered. There was a girl outside the yeshiva fence, arguing with a woman on line. She kept telling the woman she was cruel, and how could she be doing this? I got into a gentle conversation with the girl, explained the mitzvah to her and some chassidus behind it. I thought she was just randomly heckling, but it turned out she was yelling at her mother!
We finally got to the shochet. It was visceral, intense. Yaakov got blood splattered on him when the schochet tossed the dead chickens aside. Well, I don't quite know if they were dead. It was disturbing. They were still kicking their feet and flapping, and I felt bad for them. I mean, those chickens could have been us! That's the whole point! So I wasn't crazy about that part. There's some things about kapores that definitely need improvement. It's a mitzvah, but tsaar baalei chayim (cruelty to animals) isn't.
And here's something really random: When we were walking back to the car, I looked up to a glass-windowed building. I saw firefighters trying to pry open an elevator! I'm terrified of getting stuck in one. I won't take one unless another adult is with me (or if I'm talking to Yaakov on my cell phone while inside). So we stood there and watched them struggling to open the doors. Finally, they did it. A guy walked out and slapped one of the firemen on the backside, like it was no big deal. He didn't even say anything, he just walked away! I mean, if that were me, I'd be hysterically crying. I'd be asking them for their addresses so I could send thank-you notes. Maybe I'd ask their names so I could name children after them.
So I thought to myself, how I come saw that? Isn't it interesting that I witnessed one of my greatest fears? I thought a lot about it on the way home. There's a basic level, confronting our fears and overcoming them. But I also thought about how "stuck" I've felt spiritually lately. Stuck in my little elevator of self, trapped inside and not getting out. I thought, growing spiritually isn't always having the elevator doors magically open. (Voila! Welcome to your floor!) Sometimes you have to pry your way out, sweating and heaving like those firemen. Or maybe it's that sometimes people have to rescue us.
Something to contemplate before Yom Kippur.