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SisterSchmooze: Decisions, Decisions

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

At different moments in our lives, we Sisters have snapped, plunged, flipped, researched, wavered, panicked, and procrastinated. We’ve even left one decision to a dog

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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WINDING RIVER I’ve always visualized my life as a winding river. I’m floating on a log, waiting to see what Hashem has waiting for me around the next bend…

Which avocado should I buy: the squishy one that still looks green, or the firm one that looks overripe? What should I wear to my cousin’s chasunah: a fancy gown, or a simple dress? Which candidate should I vote for? Which career should I choose? Should I marry this person?

From the smallest everyday choices to the most serious life-altering ones, we’re constantly weighing options. And we all go about the decision-making process in different ways.

First there’s the Snapper — a confident, knowledgeable leader who makes quick decisions — hopefully the right one! Closely related is the Plunger — less confident about snap decisions, but risking them anyhow. Then there’s the Coin Flipper, who uses the eeny-meeny-miny-mo approach to decision-making.

At the other extreme, there’s the Researcher, who systematically studies each option — checks labels for nutrition content, comparison shops, does Internet research — before making an educated choice. Moving down the Decisiveness Scale, we come to the Waverer, who seesaws between options. 

 

And we all know the Panicker — overwhelmed by options, paralyzed into inactivity. Finally, there’s the Procrastinator, bogged down in that murky swamp where the choices aren’t black and white, simply waiting for the situation to resolve itself or for someone else — or Hashem! — to make the final decision.

Then there’s All of the Above — that’s us. At different moments in our lives, we Sisters have snapped, plunged, flipped, researched, wavered, panicked, and procrastinated. We’ve made some independent choices, yet left some of the really big decisions to Hashem. And yes — we’ve even left one decision to… a dog? 

Emmy Leah decides to decide…

Stay? Go?

January 1991. Three in the morning. All is quiet as I walk the cool, impersonal corridors of Hadassah hospital. I don’t want to disturb other new mothers. I, too, ought to sleep after giving birth earlier that day to a beautiful baby girl. I should rest while I can; in a day or two a good night’s sleep will be a thing of the past, as my infant comes home to join the family in our new home in Yerushalayim.

As my infant comes home to face the threat of gas, of death, of war.

*

Erev Shavuos 1990. On a trip to Eretz Yisrael before Chanukah, I’d talked to an English professor about academic life in Israel. Half a year later, Erev Shavuos, I received a “bitnet” message (predecessor to e-mail) from that professor, inviting me to come teach for a year in Israel.

I would refuse, of course….

Israel for a year? I was expecting a baby: Did my health-care plan cover overseas births? We had a mortgage to pay: Who would rent our house in Rochester for a year? I was already late completing my doctoral dissertation: Could I risk my degree? My husband’s company didn’t even allow flextime: Would they allow him to work from a foreign country? And later return to his job?

I would refuse, of course… (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 546)

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