Do it Anyway
A Life-Lessons Story
by Chana Klein
Have you ever tried and tried to do something but you just couldn’t no matter how hard you tried?
They All Move Away From Me
It was the second week of the semester and as I sat in the Ulpan Classroom in Jerusalem, Israel.
I looked around me and realized that I was the only one sitting in the middle of the room.
All of my classmates had moved away from me, placing their seats nearer to the classroom walls.
I had not been aware that I was annoying them.
I must have been asking them for help in reading the textbook and they were there to learn, not to help me.
I had been placed in a Hebrew level that was auditorily appropriate but visually impossible for me. I don’t learn like other people do. I am dyslexic and ADHD.
I understood most of the work in class when it was auditory. But I had learned Hebrew with only block letters. So I could not read that small Hebrew script in the book we were using, nor in the handouts.
We had an exam every Thursday. I was not able to even read it.
Why Was I Doing This?
But this is what I wanted in 1995 – to learn to read Hebrew for I wanted to read Torah the way it was really written.
I had already been studying Torah writings in English for more than ten years. In order to get a better understanding of the real text which is in Hebrew, I needed to know the language.
Otherwise, I felt, I would never learn the real stuff and I would never be able to learn what God was really telling us in his deep Torah.
I wanted to know. I needed to know to satisfy my soul’s hunger.
This Classroom Experience
This classroom experience reminded me of high school where I did not understand what was being taught or discussed.
Nevertheless, here, at Hebrew University, I showed up on-time every morning to class and persisted in my efforts for the full six-hour day of Hebrew Ulpan and did all the homework as well.
At The Kotel
Every morning, before taking the bus to the university, I stood at the Kotel (Western Wall) and prayed.
It was the second Tuesday of the semester when I begged God to help me pass the test that we were going to have that Thursday.
I left the Kotel and waited for the bus which eventually got me to my class.
An Accommodation from the Teachers
As I sat in my seat, the two teachers of the class, together, called me up to speak with them. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad,” they told me. I must have appeared nervous about their approaching me.
They seemed so bubbly as they were about to speak with me, as if they had an answer for me. And they did.
“We want to know if you would like us to read the exam to you after the other students leave. You could take the exam that way.”
“Yes,” I told them and felt some relief.
I Want to Do It Myself!
But I knew in my heart that it was not the real answer I wanted.
I went to the Kotel the next morning to pray again.
“Thank you, God, so much for having the teachers try to help me and find a way that I may pass the exams. But, God, I want to be able to read the exam myself. Please do this for me. Please help me. Help me to read the Hebrew script on my own. I want to do it myself. Please God. I can’t do it without you.”
Just before the weekly Thursday exam. I prayed again to be able to read the Hebrew and then traveled to class.
The exam was administered at the end of the school day.
My test paper was laid in front of me and I was waiting for the students to complete theirs so that the teacher could read me the exam for me to respond orally to each question.
But having ADHD, I get bored easily and always keep my brain occupied with something.
The only thing in front of me was the exam.
The other students were serious in their exam taking as they were in each hour of study.
So looking around offered no brain stimulation as I needed it.
Without any pressure to do anything, I just looked at the first question on the exam.
I understood it.
It was clear to me.
I wrote an answer.
I was able to see the Hebrew script and make sense of it.
It was the first time.
Then, I looked at the next question and the next.
I ended up doing the exam on my own, reading it with no help from the teacher or the students.
I was the last student out of the room but I did it on my own, or so it seemed.
What Was That?
No one really saw the presence of God in the room. But I know He must have been doing the exam for me.
I left class in awe that day.
For the rest of the semester, I did that on each exam and by the time we had our final exam, I was the second one finished. I scored a B for the semester.
After the final exam, I ran to the phone booth to share the miracle with my Israeli friends. I never really understood what happened that made me able to read Hebrew overnight. I went from “nothing” to “no-problem.” What was that?
I can only conjecture.
Erecting the Mishkan: Knowing You Can’t And Doing It Anyway
In the Chumash (Exodus 39:33) Bnai Yisroel were not able to erect the Mishkan. I imagine it went something like this:
” This is impossible. I can’t lift it even an inch.”
“How are we going to get this thing up?”
“Forget it. No one can do this.”
“Let’s ask Moshe.”
“But Moshe has not done anything in building this Mishkan. Maybe he is not supposed to.”
“We can’t lift it. We have to ask him. It’s just too heavy!”
“Moshe, please come with us to where we’re building the Mishkan. We’re really stuck. It’s too heavy.”
Moshe looks at it. It was too heavy. It seemed impossible.
“God, Master of the Universe,” Moshe explains to God, “You want us to erect this Mishkan. It is impossible. It’s too heavy for any human to lift.”
“Moshe, Moshe, lift the Mishkan.” God tells him. “Do it anyway. Make the effort.”
Knowing it was too heavy for him and believing that he cannot do it, Moshe tried anyway.
The Mishkan went up.
It erected itself (Hukam hamishkan ’40:17′ means the Mishkan was erected, not that someone erected it.)
How did this happen? The Mishkan got put up on its own.
But Moshe got the credit, as if he did it himself, even though it was put up by a miracle.
The Mishkan went up because of the effort.
What God wants from you and from me is the effort.
That is what we get credit for.
Doing What I Knew I Could Not
In class, I kept trying to do what I knew I could not.
I didn’t give up.
Then, God did it for me and I got the credit.
Do it anyway!
Copyright © 2015 Chana Klein