When I went to Israel in 2011 they gave us a small orange bracelet to wear on the first day. On it was written: Don't Blame, Don't Complain. They told us to move it from one wrist to the other every time we blamed or complained to see if we could stop doing those things. Lori, our incredible leader, told us that we should see if we could manage to stop doing those two things - even for just one week.
Do you know what I did? I put it in my purse. It's not that I didn't like the idea. But I didn't want to have to be moving this rubber bracelet back and forth between my wrists every time I opened my mouth so I figured why bother.
I never put the thing on. I brought it home and threw it out.
I was so into that trip; my heart was open to every single thing they taught us and showed us about Judaism and observance but for some reason not complaining and not blaming seemed insurmountable to me.
If you ask me to take you through the details of what I learned about on that trip I can tell you vaguely about some of the classes. Much of it did stay with me but that bracelet really got to me. I have thought of it on and off ever since and recently I finally got myself one.
It's a big ugly red version of what I was first given three years ago. And, it may seem like a joke but I would love to have a small thin bracelet that was fashionable, maybe a white gold, with these words inscribed on it.
What I have discovered after wearing this bracelet is that I almost never think about what comes out of my mouth before I speak.
Maybe I always knew this but it's really hitting home now. Every single day, especially right now - during the ten days of repentance when you are literally trying to impress upon The Almighty that whatever he wrote in the Book of Life should be favorable, when you have your one chance to show G-d that if what he wrote on Rosh Hashanah for you was not great, there is a reason to change it before it is sealed on Yom Kippur - every day I ask myself if I can go a day without complaining or blaming.
It seems, just as it did before, an insurmountable task. But the reason is because I have not learned to think before I speak. I've been hearing all my life that this is something I should learn to do and I get it.
If only I could manage to go one hour, let alone one day without complaining or blaming.
The bracelet is doing its job. I'm thinking about this. I'm trying.