The Mouse

It was the first day of Pesach, in the middle of the seudah, and suddenly -- swoosh -- something dark and small raced across the room towards the bookcase. “A mouse!” I shrieked. “I just saw a mouse!” We jumped into gear, ready to take action. But where did it go? And what action could we take on Yom Tov, anyhow? Ugghhhh.  It could not have gone under the bookcase because the space there is definitely too small for a creature that huge. But there is nowhere else it could have gone. Maybe it wasn’t a mouse? Was it a cockroach? Nah, they don’t travel that fast. So what could it have been? Possibly an innocent clump of dust that suddenly got blown by the air conditioner? Yes, yes, that must have been it. Having confidently surmised that the space under the bookcase is too small for a mouse, I told myself I can relax, and I indeed succeeded somewhat. Until the next sighting. This time, I saw it clearly. It ran in the other direction -- from the bookcase to under the couch. Apparently, mice can get into smaller places than I realized. Though not pleased that I was acquiring new levels of rodent-expertise, it was handy to now view the living room with expert eyes. The mouse was definitely under the couch. We pulled and pushed and searched and crouched and waited ... but nothing. Well, unless you count shrieking. Then, there was plenty. Well, no luck in catching that swift and sneaky mouse but now that we knew it existed, we could set about doing something substantial to remove it. That night, after strategically placing three well-stocked traps, we waited patiently for the morning when we would surely have caught the pest and could dispose of it in a super super far location. Lying in bed that night, I strained to hear sounds of movement. I didn’t hear any scampering but I did eventually hear the trap snap shut. Victory! I drifted off to sleep with a contented smile on my face. Morning brought with it open, empty traps and the discovery that we had set them up incorrectly. It’s funny now, but trust me — it wasn’t then! Ever since the first sighting, I was simply not at ease. Even after the traps were set up correctly, and even after I opened Perek Shira to see what I could learn from the mouse and so help it finish its tafkid here [I learned that the mouse is the symbol of wickedness], and even after I smeared more peanut butter on the Bamba in the traps, the mouse was still on the loose and only getting bolder with time, replacing its original frightened scampering with casual strolling from room to room. My eyes kept tricking me into seeing racing black spots where there clearly were none (for example, midair); I was wary to put on any shoe which seemed a comfortable spot for a mouse to be hiding in; and every crumb or speck of dirt was “definitely” mouse droppings. Most of all, I kept “totally” hearing the traps catch the mouse and even the mouse scurrying to and fro in the trap, when in reality, no such thing was occuring. However ready I was for the mouse to leave, it clearly didn’t share my feelings. Yes, the whole ordeal was rather stressful, including its eventual end. (Without getting too gruesome, the end was related to something that starts with “c” and rhymes with “hat.”) But I learned something valuable from the mouse episode and for that, I am grateful. I learned that when you are thinking of something, you will see and hear it everywhere. I was obsessed with the mouse’s whereabouts and thus, saw it everywhere. I was frantic for it to be caught, so I heard it being caught. It’s incredible how certain I was about things that were not actually happening. Turns out, living with the mouse more than it had actually been living with me, caused me to suffer unnecessarily. Sometimes, however, we can gain much by living a life based off of our imagination. In fact, our complete existence and the goings-on of the entire universe are centered right now around what sort of attitude we adopt and what reality we choose to live in. The harsh day-to-day of our golus often feels oppressive and overwhelming, while the utopia of Moshiach days seems far-off and elusive; the bridge between the two can feel endless. By obsessing over Moshiach, by seeing it everywhere, hearing the sounds, feeling the signs, confident we are experiencing Moshiach times, and acting as if Moshiach is already here, we can cross that bridge. Until now, we have been accustomed to telling ourselves, “When Moshiach is here, we will live in harmony, study Torah, feel free from anxiety, build a home for Hashem, and see the goodness and G-dliness in everything.” It’s time to reverse it. It’s time to tell ourselves, “When we will live in harmony, study Torah, feel free from anxiety, build a home for Hashem, and see the goodness and G-dliness in everything, then Moshiach will be here!” May it be now, now, now! Chava Isacovitch delights in uncovering Hashem behind and beneath every facet of life. She writes and lectures on a variety of topics and is the author of Aharon's Staff: Practical Chinuch Tips from Chassidus. She also coaches parents and teachers of children with behavioral challenges. Chava lives in Eretz Yisroel.

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