The Simple (Profound) Lesson Found in a Quarter

So, last week, my family and I embarked on the 10 Days of Awe, which is the intermediate period between the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

While for most, these ten days symbolize an annual judgement period for the upcoming year, with the “righteous” being inscribed to the book of life, the wicked being “blotted out of the book of life forever” (according to Wikipedia!), and repentance for the rest of us, for me, it’s been a time of reflection of the past year and a time to decide who I want to be and what changes I am going to make for the new year.

In order to do this, we participate in a ritual called “tashlikh” in which we cast away our “sins” (while providing a meal of bread for the local ducks) into a flowing body of water.  I’ve always asked my kids to describe out loud what “sins” they were throwing away (this included “I won’t hit my brother anymore” to my perfect mom actually telling me this year that she didn’t have any sins to throw away.)  And since I don’t ask them to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, I also share my “sins” which has typically included needing more patience (I’ve been working on this one for several years), and being more charitable.

Well, today, I was at the park with my 9 year old son, who found a quarter in the grass.  Excitedly, he said, “Mom! It’s “heads up!”  That means, I’m going to have 25 days of good luck, but I have to hold onto it!”  Meanwhile, I thought, “Wow! What a great opportunity to put into action my tashlikh of being more charitable” (which, of course translates into my whole family having to share in my tashlikh of charity!)

So, I said, “That’s awesome!  Do you know, tomorrow, when you go to your religious instructions class, and you give your weekly donation to charity, you can include that quarter and maybe both you and whoever gets the quarter will have good luck for 25 days!”  To my surprise, he said, “No. I think I’ll keep this one.” I unsuccessfully tried to explain that giving makes you feel great, etc. but I might as well have been saying “blah blah blah”.  And eventually, he walked away.

Not even five minutes later, I saw him looking around in the grass and I asked what he was doing.  He said that he had been playing with his “lucky” quarter and lost it (not so lucky, huh?).  After searching a bit, I found the quarter and said to him, “Isn’t it funny how Karma works? You didn’t want to share the quarter, and then you almost lost it.”  And then I walked away.

On the way home, my son handed me his lucky quarter and said, “Please make sure this gets into my donation bag for school tomorrow.”

The point of all this?  Some lessons come down strong … a great power is judging whether you live or die this year (oh, and by the way, whether it’s by fire or by stoning!), and others come down in something as simple as finding a quarter.  Look for the simple lessons … they’re there for the taking.

And that’s just my two cents (for whatever it’s worth!)