By Rina Haller
There are natural markers in life as to when one should advance to the next stage. It has come time for myself and my peers to bid childhood farewell . . . and slowly embrace ourselves as adults. There is no halachic status of a teenager. At 12 and 13 respectively, we become responsible for our actions. Once we turn 20, we are fully aware and capable of being judged. As I stand on the threshold, confused, watching my youthful days dwindle, I look up for guidance. Life’s mysteries appear more muddled as they loom closer and so much appears a blur of questions.
While I am shocked into maturing, I am simultaneously gaining perspective regarding my growth. On Friday I attended neitz for Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel. A year ago, I stood at the same stones. There I clearly see my changes; a new person has emerged from the ashes of a soul. If I and my friends all shifted from high school seniors to blossoming students in Eretz Yisrael, we must be able to continue the transition.
As I followed Hallel and watched the dancing and rejoicing over a new month, there was a loud interruption. Not all of my fellow females appreciate our own unique part in the celebrations. The so-called Women of the Wall were stridently proclaiming prayers at services they frequent only in protest. The majority of these individuals do not follow women’s mitzvos, yet rush to wear tefillin and talleisim as part of their attire. I see confusion, yet so different from what I feel. I, along with others, am struggling to assume our new roles and positions in life; while these women are battling to leave their places and take on the tasks of others.
A new intensity is required as I soak up all my opportunities. Now has been deemed the right time to start preparing for a future of little known detail. All anyone can be certain of is that the future is theirs and they must be part of it. However, what Hashem has in store is a curiosity known to none.
I have learned how to keep achieving in many areas, from modesty to middos. I look at these women, who seem to be trying to gain in their prayers and their devotion to their Creator. I reflect on the times that I and others have felt His presence, and it usually has been in seclusion or a more silent atmosphere. Praying to the masses is but a ploy to convince others of your own desires, not a higher means of worship. Look inside yourself to truly decide where you want to go.
Alas, there are but limited moments to portray yourself to the world. Whether in a snapshot you were unprepared for or a gathering awaited the whole month, we are all telling the billions of humans about ourselves. As I and countless others enter this realm, having been cultivated through years of schooling and parenting, we understand the pressures. Our peers should only influence us for the good while we still battle to keep up with the crowd. So I rest on my friends’ shoulders as we lean together, grasping our time with both hands.
To safely transition to adulthood, one needs guidance. As I ask my teachers in Darchei Binah and many supply their own ideas, I can propel into the next few months of my life. Who is leading you, is anyone there to support and hold your hand? What tells women to act up and go against the Jewish norm or what it was? There is no individuality for a religion—only caring how your actions impact your brethren.
As I walked away from the Kotel, I whispered a prayer for a good month. My family remains a constant in my davening, as they support and care from afar. We attend class, we learn Torah for all Jews. To build my future is to help shape myself into the Klal. Hopefully, we can learn to agree and work as a whole. Now is the phase, now is the time. No longer delaying; here we are advancing to adulthood, at last. v