April 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The night before the first day of seventh grade Hillel was FREAKING OUT. “What if I don’t do well this year? I really want to get into Machon Eliyahu for high school, but there are like 10 kids smarter than me and three other kids whose siblings went there! I didn’t even finish my summer homework yet! I can’t go to sleep. Is my bag even packed?” Hillel’s parents expected this to happen, so Dad was already in the room as Hillel got ready for bed.

Hillel’s father put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Buddy, it’s going to be okay. Your bag is all packed and I triple-checked the supply list. You have only three questions left on your summer homework, which is due by the end of the week. You have excellent grades and most importantly, you are a good person. That’s more important than anything else—for high schools and for me and Mommy. Try to take a few deep breaths and calm down. It’s going to be okay.”

Hillel nodded, took a few breaths, calmed down and got into bed. After his father left, Hillel’s nerves came back. He continued trying to calm himself, and eventually fell asleep an hour later.

The first few school nights played out the same way. Hillel would start getting nervous at bedtime, Mom or Dad would help him calm down, and he’d eventually fall asleep. Fortunately, this routine stopped after the first week. Hillel settled in, feeling calm and confident about school. Then, his first test came, and back came the nerves.

“Mom, there’s too much on this test! The review packet is 11 pages! How am I supposed to study all of this? Shaya said he already studied half and I haven’t even started! What am I going to do? I’ll never get into Machon Eliyahu like this!” Hillel’s Mom smiled and gave him a gentle hug. “Sweetie, we’ve gone over this before. First of all, never go based on how many pages a test or study guide is. For example, the first page is a cover and the last page has one review question and the words “good luck” in a huge font. Also, you know that certain people like to study quickly and then show off how much they have done. It doesn’t mean they will do better, and what other people do has nothing to do with you.” Hillel took a deep breath, but still didn’t seem settled. So, his mother pulled out her phone and opened up her “secret weapon.”

“Hillel,” his mother began, “take a look.” With that, she hit play to start a video on her iPhone. The video was of Hillel, one year earlier. Hillel was in his room and had a very similar look on his face. The Hillel in the video was complaining. “I can’t go to sleep! I’m not going to be ready for the test! It’s not fair that there’s one month of material on it! I also heard Shaya tell Yosef that he heard Rabbi Finkel say that the test is going to be EIGHT PAGES! EIGHT PAGES!” The video then suddenly ended. Hillel turned to his mother. “Why did you record that? It’s so embarrassing! And why are you showing it to me now? To make fun of me?”

Hillel’s mother smiled. “Hang on. One more video and you’ll understand.” She went back to her phone, swiped and tapped a few times and brought up a second video. “Watch,” she told Hillel, who leaned in to see what his mother had to show him. In this clip he was smiling. His father’s voice could be heard from behind the phone. “Hey Hillel, what do you have there?” Hillel held up the packet of paper in his hands. “My first Chumash test of the year. I got 100!” His father’s voice came in again. “So, you didn’t need to get so crazy about the test?” Hillel gave a sheepish grin. “I guess not. I just studied like usual and did fine. Next time I’ll try to stay calm.” Present day Hillel smiled at his mother. “I get it. Thanks, Mom.”

Two years later, the night before the first day of ninth grade, Hillel was about to freak out. Instead, he took out his phone, pulled out the two videos from sixth grade and watched them quickly. He took a deep breath, said Shema, and fell right asleep. Tomorrow he was starting Machon Eliyahu.

In this week’s parsha, we are commanded to remember what Amalek did to B’nai Yisrael. We had just left Egypt and we were in a state of doubt—was Hashem really going to protect us at all times? At this moment, Hashem answered our questions by leading us to victory against our enemy. The requirement to remember this story is due to the power of memory. We all have moments of doubt in our lives, and must turn to our memories of success to give us the confidence to pull through.


Yair Daar is the director of Student Life at Bicultural Hebrew Academy High School. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles