Love thy neighbor,
Where a Ba’al Teshuva stands not even a Tzadik can stand.
Words spinning through my head while your eyes burn a hole through my tights that are just a little out of place accompanied with my bright dress and my tattoos.
If only you knew the effort that went into these tights.
Maybe you wouldn’t stare.
Maybe your children wouldn’t laugh and point and wonder where I come from that I have these strange black marks on my skin.
Maybe you wouldn’t ask yourself what it is that I’m doing here.
Sometimes I envy you.
I think about how easy it is for you to read and understand holy words that my tongue gets stuck on.
I imagine you getting a blessing from your parents every shabbos.
Them placing their loving hands on your head and asking Hashem to watch over you in the honor of the righteous.
My house never saw this.
My Neshama never felt this.
Sometimes I envy.
And then, while you’re judging me and silently wondering if I know what I’m doing,
I realize that you will never know what it’s like to give up everything you know for the truth.
I realize that you can look at me like that because it’s foreign to you.
While me, well I can look at a person and understand that there is an entire story that’s unseen.
But I still feel your gaze burning holes into me.
I must get my money back, my bullet proof tights don’t withstand your weaponized gaze.
Would you feel better if I said I was ashamed of who I was?
If I told you that I’ve changed?
If you knew what these dark marks were a disguise for me?
If you knew that underneath these tattoos there are scars that remind me that who I was,
didn’t want to be?
If you knew how much time and money
and unbelievable pain goes into my removal of these markings?
Would you feel better or would you just pity?
HE doesn’t pity me.
I can’t count how many times I’ve fallen to my knees and begged Him.
And He picks me up with gentle force and shows me the way.
He loves me so much, Why can’t you?
You think I’m lost.
But I’m on the same path and I’m using the same compass as you,
I just went down the wrong road for a while.
Would you look at me like this if you realized that I am not separate from you?
That I am an extension of you as you are an extension of me.
And while I cannot expect you to judge me favorably if I can’t even judge myself favorably,
do it anyways.
Don’t spoil my picture of you, rosy cheeks, a beautiful unspoiled gem shining through your fathers hands on your head and the smell of fresh challah in the background.
Don’t take that away from me.
Let me dwell a little longer, please.