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It's My Fault

It's My Fault

Three words that changed everything.


If you could have seen me Wednesday morning, September 28th, you would have found me with clothing and luggage sprawled all over my room. My family and I were trying to head to New York City in good time before Rosh Hashana would begin. We would be having our Hineni High Holiday prayer services in the Essex House together with Jews from every part of the world. Rosh Hashana would go straight into Shabbos so we had to pack ourselves up for the next three days. That may not sound like a lot but when you are a family trying to get out on time, tensions rise and nerves are frayed. I was trying to remember everything we would need.

“Everyone collect your luggage into my room!” I called out. “I am running downstairs to put together some stuff in the kitchen. Then please take all the suit bags and hanging things along with all the suitcases to the car. We need to leave in 15 minutes.”

I heard footsteps rushing back and forth on the floor above me.

Great, I thought. They’re listening.

Then I heard the bumping sound of luggage being dragged down the steps.

“Wow, we might really make this with time to spare!”

The car was loaded with all our gear. We piled in and made our way to the city. Traffic was heavy but we finally pulled up to the hotel. I ran out of the car to wait at the reception desk and check us all in while my husband settled the car. The bellhop sped ahead with the luggage.

Finally I was able to take a breath. Not bad, I thought. I even have a little time before Rosh Hashana begins to contemplate and put my thoughts in order. The time flew by and there were just 40 minutes left till candle lighting. My children began getting ready. You could hear the noisy blow dryers as doors slammed open and shut.

I looked around the room and tried to see where my luggage was put. I didn’t find it anywhere. I looked under the beds, in the closet, in the bathroom. Nowhere.

I stepped out into the hall. Could it have been left there? Nope, nothing there.

I ran into my children’s room and turned everything upside down. Still no luggage.

My heart began beating hard. I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. I ran back to my room.

“Okay everyone!” I called out. “I don’t see my suitcase anywhere. Does anyone know where my luggage is?”

My family began searching the room, looking under the beds, behind the curtains, in the closet. They came up with nothing, just as I had. Uh oh. This doesn't look good.

“What color was your suitcase?”

“Were your hanging things in it too, Mommy?”

I took a breath. "Does anyone remember bringing a blue suitcase into the hotel?" All I got were blank stares.

“Does anyone remember loading my blue luggage into the car?”


“Well, I took the suit bags and hat boxes.”

“And I had to take the heavy suitcase that no one wanted to shlep.”

Everyone began to tell me what they did take – everything except my luggage.

I began to feel angry. Why does everyone remember their stuff and my stuff gets left behind? What am I going to do for the next three days? This isn’t right!

It’s about time that I take responsibility and not blame others if there’s a mess-up.

And then a thought popped into my head that totally changed my perspective. Not for just that moment, but the way I have seen things ever since.

It’s about time that I take responsibility and not blame others if there’s a mess-up, I thought to myself. Yes, I asked everyone to take my luggage and it would’ve been perfect if they did. But the bottom line is: it’s my luggage! I was supposed to check and make sure my suitcase made it to the car. I am accountable for my things. The buck stops here.

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Sure, it’s great to have people help me but bottom line is it’s up to me to be sure that my suitcase makes it out the door. I have no one else to blame but myself.

My family looked at me, wondering what I would say. I could see that they felt terrible.

“Listen,” I said. “It’s my luggage! This is no one’s fault. I don’t blame anyone. It would’ve been nice if someone had put it in the car but it was really my job to be sure that it was there. And besides, it’s now 15 minutes before Rosh Hashana. How can I fail my first test of the year?”

P.S. If you are wondering what I did for the next three days, here’s the epilogue:

My husband suggested that I call a friend who lives down the block and ask her to find my luggage in our home and send it to me via taxi. At first I resisted. How could I trouble someone with all this 15 minutes before candle lighting? But my husband encouraged me, very strongly, to make the call. And my dear friend who I know wishes to remain anonymous began her year with a great mitzvah.

December 10, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 7

(6) Tammy, December 11, 2011 10:49 PM

Forgotten Luggage

In an ideal world this story would never have to have been written, but here we go. Always have a back up plan. In this case never assume someone is going to take your luggage too, so make sure you check on it yourself weather you want to or not that way you will save yourself the disappointment of having it being forgotten because others didn't do as expected. Lower your expectations of others and you won't be disappointed when they don't perform for you.

(5) Marianne Little, December 11, 2011 10:11 PM

Changing a life time of trying to figure out who was to blame into thinking of how to solve the problem

It seems that I had spent a lifetime to trying to figure out who was to blame for major disasters. My turning point came when I forgot my passport for a flight to one of the most important events of my life. I was at the airport hurriedly thinking of every detail of getting myself and my family off on a flight we could NOT miss when the lady at the counter said "Sorry but I need your passport, too." I counted them out again and yes, there were 7 passports. All accounted for and told the young lady she had missed it. She looked again and smiled saying "One is an expired passport for your son. All the rest are there except yours." My mind searched for some reason of how this could have happened. I was about to accuse my 3 years old son of playing with the passports when it hit me. I had driven to Paris the week before and my passport was with my International Driver's License and proof of insurance in the glovebox of my car parked at home in the garage. Rather than totally panic, I quickly called my Nanny and asked her to rush to my car and bring me the passport praying she would make it before the final call for boarding. I turned to see my family huddled as if they were waiting for me to blame someone for not making sure I had them all and I almost cried. My son was trembling as he had been the one who added his expired passport, the only one not already in the stack, since there were only 6 with the tickets. He was sure he was going to be blamed for moving mine somehow. It touched my heart that my family expected me to blame someone for the mix up and all eyes were glaring at my son. What had I been doing to those I love most in this world? Dropping to my knees, I hugged my son and thanked him for counting the passports but explained that it was me who left mine in the car. Assigning blame doesn't really matter or help anything, it is finding a solution to the problem that counts. Seven happy faces made the flight in time with no upset, not even me with myself.

(4) Ullp K., December 11, 2011 8:32 PM

Kol Hakavod!

it's great to stop and think and take responsibility, or just not to blame and try to find solutions. The other day I told my spouse of a problem and heard - ... it's YOUR fault! I was not trying to blame my spouse or anything- just wanted to say that since this thing happened let's do A B C b/c of it. Never got a chance ! My spouse blamed and LEFT. That's called- looking whom to blame instead of finding solutions.

(3) ruth housman, December 11, 2011 2:53 PM

fault lines around the word and the world

I often have thought, in terms of the Middle East Conflict, and it is not a happy thought, and one I have to suppress, a kind of yetzer, that the only way to solve this problem would be a major earthquake that puts people together in helping each other, that would erase lines of conflict, and provide a lesson in the equality of being humane, and this, a kind of gift, in adversity. IT happens on big and small levels, that we have to shift our perspective, as you did, in realizing and admitting to fault, and somehow this erases the fault lines, the impending earthquake that does threaten to overwhelm, even in everyday life. I think the lessons move from the small to the big, in terms of cosmic, and that MITE being very small, and MIGHT, being very big, are related words. We learn in this One Room Schoolhouse, how to best love each other, and so this is a profound lesson in its small way, about bags, and baggage, and the loads we all carry, and then, how to minimize those loads by accessing deeper truths, about LOVE itself. It all does deeply mirror, doesn't it? With thanks.

Alan S., December 11, 2011 9:19 PM

While the overall hope to resolve the Middle East conflict is -- to use your wording -- LOVEly, the reality is that an earthquake just won't do this. This conflict won't be resolved until the Arabs learn -- again to use your word -- to LOVE life rather than death and martydom. An earthquake? The Arabs would blame the Israel for the earthquake.

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