I am asked to do many things in my day, and I always try to do my best with each task. Some of them are easier than others. It really isn't a hardship to run to the store for a friend and if I am going there anyway, which I usually am, it is not even an extra blip on my day's radar. Similarly, it isn't really that hard to run forgotten lunch money to the school before lunch period starts. I should be up and dressed anyway.
But, some tasks require more thought, more planning, and, dare I say it, more chutzpah. When the Rabbi asked me if I would teach the Hebrew class, I was honored, but terrified. Children scare me. Even my own children scare me. I think I cover it well, and the many hours of play I have with my children helps to ease the fear. But classroom settings scare me. I think my biggest fear is having to speak to a room full of five-year olds. Lucky for me, the Hebrew students are not five. Actually, they are older, which can be scarier. Older kids have attitudes and can talk back. While I am sure you are finding my children phobias fascinating, that is not the point. The point is, the Rabbi asked me to teach, and even though it was a very daunting and difficult task, I embraced it. I have even found that I enjoy it.
There is one task for which I really need to muster the chutzpah. Several times now, the Rabbi has asked me to read the Haftorah on Shabbat. So far, I have managed to avoid it. It isn't that I don't want to do it, I would like to be able to do it, but I am terrified. I am terrified that I won't be able to learn the Hebrew well enough to get through the trope. I am terrified that I won't learn the trope in time. I am terrified that I will be in the middle of reciting the Haftorah and I will hear my children SCREAM from the other room. Then, there will be a flurry of activity as the baby comes running into the sanctuary crying her baby head off and I will lose my place and have to start the whole Haftorah over again. I have voiced these fears to my friend. She, as always, is extremely sympathetic and tells me that I don't need to worry about the kids, because she would take care of them. And as for the Hebrew, she says, "it is not that hard."
Yeah, right. Not that hard. If it were not that hard, there would be no anxiety associated with learning the Hebrew when young boys and girls begin to study for their Bar and Bat Mitzvot. If it were not that hard, I think my friend would be practicing for her Haftorah. Okay, that is unfair. I know that not everyone wants to recite the Haftorah, and that is just fine.
It isn't that I don't want to do the Haftorah. I do. But time is at a premium. When I was a girl, I had all kinds of time to study the Haftorah. Actually, I had all kinds of forced study time. I was a 12-year old girl and my only responsibilities were homework and Haftorah. Things are a little different now. (Did I mention that I have four kids?) I discussed this issue with the Rabbi. He understood. He was disappointed, but he understood. He politely waited two weeks before he handed me another tape, and told me this Haftorah was for the Shabbat of my mom's yartzeit. It is a mitzvah, he said, to do the Haftorah on the yartzeit. The rabbi is good with guilt.
And the Rabbi is good with competition. He likes to use competition as a motivator. He uses it for the kids by giving out prizes to correct answers of difficult questions. A few well-organized classroom games gets the competition juices flowing and the kids participate more. It works for some of the kids, some of the time. But, it doesn't work for me. Telling me that I should want to do a Haftorah because other members of the congregation have done Haftorahs is not incentive for me. I am not really concerned with what other members of the congregation have or have not done. I guess his point is that he wants me to know that if everyone else can do it, it is not that hard.
I can't say if I will or will not do the Haftorah. I can tell you that if I do decide to do it, it will be because I want to, not because I feel the need to compete with anoyone else or that I feel like I *should* do it to avoid feeling guilty. If I decide to recite a Haftorah, it will be on my terms.
It really is not that hard.