Do it Anyway
by Chana Klein
Have you ever tried and tried to do something and then it just happened that you could? Or have you
ever tried and not succeeded?
It was the second week of the semester and as I sat in the Ulpan Classroom in Jerusalem, Israel and realized that I was the only one sitting in the middle of the room. All of the other students 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 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 and I understood the work in class when it was auditory but could not read that small Hebrew script in the book we were using and in the handouts as well. I had learned Hebrew with only block letters. I just could not make out what to me was tiny Hebrew script.
We had an exam every Thursday. That was really difficult for me. I was not able to even read it.
But this is what I wanted - to learn to read Hebrew so that I may read Torah the way it was really written. Learning Hebrew was a very high priority in my life in 1995. I had been studying Torah writings in English for more than ten years by then and 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 will never learn the real stuff. 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 reminded me of my days in junior high school and high school when 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.
Every morning before taking the bus to the university, I davened (prayed) at the Kotel (Western Wall.)
On the second Tuesday of the semester, I prayed to God begging him to help me pass the test that we were going to have this Thursday.
I left the Kotel and waited for the bus which eventually got me to my class. After I sat in my seat, the two teachers of the class, together, called me up to speak with them. I must have appeared nervous about their approaching me because one of them told me, "Don't worry, it's nothing bad." They seemed so bubbly upon speaking with me as if they had an answer for me. And they did.
"We want to know, one of them said, "if you would like us to read the exam to you after the other students leave. You could take it that way."
"Yes," I told them and felt some relief. But I knew inside myself that it was not the real answer I wanted.
I went to the Kotel the next morning to daven 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."
And then on Thursday, before the weekly exam. I prayed again to be able to read the Hebrew.
I got to school Thursday morning. We had class and then before the end of the school day, the exam was administered.
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 and I would respond with the answers.
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. Looking around offered no brain stimulation as I needed it. So 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. Something happened. 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 did 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.
No one really saw the presence of God in the room. But I know He must have been doing it for me. I left class in awe that day.
For the rest of the semester, I did that on each exam we had and by the time we had our final exam, I was the second one finished and I scored a B for the semester.
After the final exam, I went 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.
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."
"But we can't lift it. We have to ask him. It's just too heavy!"
"Moshe, please come with us to where we are building the Mishkan. We are really stuck. It's too heavy."
Moshe looks at it. It was too heavy. It seemed impossible.
"God, Master of the Universe, You want us to erect this Mishkan. It is impossible. It is too heavy for any human to lift." Moshe explains to God.
"Moshe, Moshe, Lift the Mishkan. Do it anyway. Make the effort." God tells him.
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 important thing was the effort. It went up because of the effort. What God wants from you and from me is the effort. That is what we get credit for.
I was able to read Hebrew and pass my tests. But I know clearly that I did not and could not have done that, especially overnight, without some Heavenly assistance. I feel that I must have gotten that Divine help because I made the effort. 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.
God is interested in the effort. We don't have to worry about the results as long as we do our best.
What can't you do? What effort are you putting into it?
What else can you do to make it happen?
Whatever you do, don't give up. All things are possible with the help of God.
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