Jewish Conversations 

Kvetching with God

Joan Englander ©2018

Introduction 

                                             

         After weeks of sorrow from losing a dear friend, I asked God if he  viewed the situation with humor because to me it was impossible. All my prayers and meditations could do nothing to release my heaviness; maybe humor would? 

        Lying in bed one morning, I suddenly heard a voice causing me to laugh until I cried. Maybe you will find your own? Here is mine:

A Monologue

         Lord, I’m up here on the roof again. Remember Tevye in that movie on his roof ? I’m not sure how big your memory bank is Lord but he was up there begging, kvetching in your company big time and trying to give thanks in his anxious moments.

         You say you want me to do the same thing, give thanks? Oy Lord I wish your memory was lousy and I never mentioned Tevya. But I fear unfortunately that your memory might be fine and more than fine, God forbid.

         Here I am facing letting go, that’s anxious enough. Yet now you want me to give thanks. Frankly, I don’t know why I have to let go in the first place. This time on the roof, it’s autumn. Alright already, I’ve been through every season. That should be more than enough. You say being thankful is good for all seasons? I say: the seasons are getting tired and so am I. I think you should be able to see this but I’m not so sure about your eyesight. 

        Now it’s written in the Good Book Lord, we can’t do anything without you. It says you have given us our very breath and whatever comes out of our mouth, comes out because you gave us a mouth. And you tell us to open it. And sometimes you wish we’d shut it?

        Well, I’m opening mine now and I just have to hope your wrath doesn’t descend upon me. This is one part of what I’ve heard about you that I definitely don’t like and refuse to believe because quite frankly, underneath it all, I think you’re not so bad.

       

        It’s also written that you’re supposed to be the vine, I’m supposed to be the branches. And those who abide in you bear much fruit. So what kind of fruit am I bearing? I’ll tell you what kind: kvetching! Yes, complaining! So, what’s wrong with that? You think I should let go of kvetching? Since you’re the author of everything, you must have made kvetching come into being.  So how bad can it be?

 

         It’s painful, Lord, you’re asking me to let go of something half the world exists on. So what am I supposed to do? Shed everything, you say? Shed, shmed, that advice does me no good at all. There’s a lot wrong with this world and somebody has to mention it. Is it my fault that the mentioning has to come from me?

         So now Lord, you ask me to let go because you don’t kvetch so why should I? Is this your view? That because you made me in your image I should mend my ways to act like you? How can I act like you when I can’t find you in the first place? When I’m talking and you’re not answering? Sure, I never heard you kvetch but it could happen. I’m waiting but I don’t hear anything. These hearing aids are a nuisance. Are they falling out? Are they falling in? Have the batteries collapsed? Have I?

 

         Honestly Lord there’s nothing to do but kvetch when I tell it like it is: there’s poop in the yard, dogs howling on both sides of the house, ashes all over the place and I’m not supposed to complain? I’m supposed to, la la la, praise you in everything?

 

        Once in a while, Lord, you could allow me a little indulgence. Did you ever think that kvetching is good for the soul? That it’s a form of delight? You say we should delight in you? Well, I’m delighting, if you’re listening. Could you just speak up a little?

 

        What? You say kvetching is an addiction? Now Lord, this is going a little too far. I’m supposed to be addicted to you and to nothing else? How many times have I stood here on this roof and talked to you? Just how many times in the days, weeks, months, years that I have been breathing: and therefore talking.

 

        You say it wouldn’t be a bad thing if before I leave this farshtunkena (rotten mess) world I gave up my complaining and got ready for the end?  Okay, I’ll admit: letting go of this habit could be a good thing but just not right now. I’m too busy with my #1 activity:  Kvetching.

 

         Remember Tevya? I’m giving thanks to him. He nagged, begged, and sang. His whole body shook, his arms flapped the air, he called down the heavens with his dancing. Yep, it was 100% nagging, 100% dancing. If he could do it, I can do it. 

         So if you happen to be looking, Lord, I’m vigorously shaking right now before your eyes. It’s obvious you made me a talented multi tasker; it’s easy to kvetch and sing at the same time. I can hear Tevya singing: “If I were a rich man…” And now I’m singing from where he left off:

 

       “Would it ruin your eternal plan/if I took up quite a rigorous stand,/ begged you til you gave me your hand,/ nagged you til you helped me understand?” I ask you Lord, would this really ruin your eternal plan?