Let It Go: A Conversation with Ruchi Koval
When JWRP Trip Leader Ruchi Koval asked her 20-year-old son if he wanted to go skydiving, he immediately said yes. They signed their lives away on waivers and found themselves strapped to parachutes, lifted 10,000 feet in a tiny airplane, and instructed to hold a metal bar on the wing of the plane. Then it was time to jump. “I didn’t have a choice at that moment,” said Ruchi. “If I worried, I knew that I’d miss out on an incredible experience. So, I decided to breathe, take in the view, and trust that G-d had my back.” For Ruchi, the feeling she felt while skydiving was a perfect metaphor for Emunah, faithfulness and trust in G-d. In our conversation, Ruchi shares how our trust in G-d can decrease our anxiety, as well as a personal experience that reawakened her faithfulness.
How can having trust in G-d improve our lives?
So much of our lives is consumed by stress and anxiety. We’re busy raising kids, making a living, dealing with extended family, and more. As scientists delve further into the mind/body relationship, it’s becoming clearer and clearer how much mental health affects physical health — and it even impacts how long we live. If we can figure out how to relieve some of our stress and give it up to G-d, we can live calmer, happier, and healthier lives. When we have trust in G-d, we understand that we don’t have to be G-d. We don’t have to manage everything, know all of the answers, and know each and every end result. We can exhale deeply and release some of our control to G-d.
Can you tell us about a biblical figure who portrayed faithfulness and trust in G-d?
The very first person who pops into my mind is Miriam. When the Jewish people left Egypt, Miriam shook her tambourine, leading the other women in dance and song. That means that while preparing to flee Egypt, she made the decision to pack a tambourine. In her rushed exit from Egypt, why would Miriam pack a tambourine? Though the Jewish people faced adversity at every turn, she put her faith in God and believed that there would be reason to celebrate. She is a role model for all of the Jewish women who have kept their faith throughout the ages.
Can you share a recent time when you needed to tap into your trust in G-d?
Recently, my husband and I needed to take our son out of his Jewish day school and enroll him in a school that could support his needs. We researched schools for months, scouring our area for one that would be best for him. Finally, we chose a Montessori school that not only offered an individualized curriculum, but that also had a high school. We were thrilled with it. My son left for his first day and two hours later, we received a call from the school. They said that they couldn’t meet his needs and that we should pick him up. I felt completely shattered. I tried to flex my faithfulness muscle, but it just wasn’t working.
Two days later, I attended a yoga class. The instructor usually doesn’t share personal information, but this time she mentioned that she was angry because her son’s Montessori high school was closing. When I heard that, it occured to me that G-d may be sending me a strong message: the Montessori school would have only been a temporary fix, we don’t need to plan the next several years of our son’s life, and G-d truly runs the show. In life, we all get messages from G-d and if we keep our eyes and ears open, we’ll notice them and become stronger people.
What are some moments in our life that can awaken our trust in G-d?
The highs and lows in life bring out our faithfulness. For example, the other day, I saw that my daughter wrote a very sweet letter to her bus driver. At that moment, I felt a sense of trust in G-d. At other times, when we receive an uncomfortable phone call or get bad news or face tough realizations, we are challenged to flex our faithfulness muscle. As my husband says, G-d gives us hugs and pinches, and these remind us to pay attention and renew our sense of faithfulness and trust in G-d.