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The Kumzitz

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

In the midst of chaos and mess, I was suddenly inspired. It was not the right moment, the setting wasn’t right. Yet somehow, and possibly because of that, it was just so right.

In a world gone crazy, with tragedy hiding behind every corner, there is one message that repeats itself loud and clear. It can be heard through tears and sobs, confusion and loss, frustration and despair - Love them, Hug them. Our time here is a gift, not to be taken for granted. Enjoy your loved ones, hug them a bit tighter. Perhaps that's what inspired the moment.

Maybe it was the right moment because for so long, I have been working on my inner calm and peace, and tonight I succeeded.

We just returned from a Shabbos away. The kids were in pajamas, some wore boots and some Shabbos shoes without socks. As we dashed from the car to the building which could not have been more than 10 steps, they were hit by the pouring rain that we have been praying for. They all trampled into the house - wet, cold and of course, hungry.

The house was still messy because I have long given up on the dream of leaving the house spotless as we pack up to go away. It seems to be impossible at my stage and so be it.

“Music! Turn on music” five year old demands/asks.

My brain said “not now. Bedtime, food, unpack, the clock is ticking..”

And then came the change of heart.

“You know what? Turn off the lights and sit on the floor. Bring out some candles.

We’ll have a kumzitz.”

“What’s that?”

And there we sat, amidst chaos, hungry stomachs, piles of wet clothes and the baby’s bedtime. We sat on the floor, sang our hearts out in the dark, with the candles shining their bright lights.

“ומאירים את העולם..”

“Light like this candle?” Asks mesmerized five years old.

“Yes, exactly”.

It was in that moment of time that clarity speaks louder than to do list, it was when a soul filled with love and yearning can reach higher than any life coaching course. In those moments I watched my kids take it all in, connect to words they do or don’t understand, allow themselves to get tired watching those flickering tea lights in a tin pan. It was in those very moments that I understood what love them means.

Love them, enjoy them. Life is crazy, busy, hectic. It will always be. Find these pockets of time that allow you to love, to laugh.

It wasn’t perfect. Six year old didn’t like our song choice and wasn’t comfortable on the floor. Seven year old was still hungry.

Yet, as they sat a little closer together and sang a little louder, the purity of the moment spoke louder than the songs themselves. For that half an hour, while time didn’t stop, everything else did. The noise of the world cannot be heard, the problems seemed to be none. As we cuddled, their eyes glazed over with exhaustion, mine with tears.

It wasn’t that kumzitz back in sleepaway camp when the world clearly ceased to exist as you sang into the night, and the bubble you’re in seemed to be anything but a bubble, filled with ideals, goals and dreams that were most definitely about to make the world a better place.

This was no bubble. This was as realistic as it can get. In the midst of the routine, the schedules and the lists. This moment where nothing stops and nothing waits, the clock doesn’t slow down and the laundry doesn’t disappear. But the heart softens, the connections strengthen, and the love is real.

I think this is what Hug Them and Love Them means.

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