Photo Credit: Jewish Press

For the past two years I have been going to school to achieve a license to teach. Throughout this time, I have faced many challenges and many exams to make sure that I would be properly qualified to teach, and I passed all of them.

I am almost 50 years old and my school days are far behind me. Getting through high school and college was a great challenge for me. Sitting down to study isn’t my forte. Let alone all those long hours of studying and preparing. Looking back at my school years I always seemed to find a way to get through all of my studies and didn’t take things too seriously at the age of 20. So taking this teaching course was a great mountain to conquer. It was very time consuming, costly and required full attendance and good grades. All this was a major effort on my part, but I struggled through and I finished the course.


Last week was my final exam and it was an oral test. I had to teach a student a certain topic that was picked for me on the spot. I studied all the topics that were given to me and felt ready and prepared.

We were four students all being tested separately. I stepped up and said that I wanted to be first. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was that I spoke too long. And my 3rd mistake was that I omitted a certain paragraph that was important in my explanation of the text. I was done explaining and the person judging me started to speak. It felt like time stood still and I was in the lion’s pit waiting to be eaten alive. I was his first pupil of the day and he had lots of energy and lots of comments to make. My time was up and I was asked to leave and call in the next person to be tested.

I felt that things didn’t go so well for me. Of the four other students that day, everyone passed except for me. I was devastated. I had worked so hard for so long and then on the final exam, I just didn’t make it. Scheduling a new test isn’t so easy and sometimes can take a few months if not more. I saw all my friends that studied with me beaming with joy. Everyone was so happy that they passed and were finished with all the studies. It was finally time to get our certificate and start working; to get out there and start making money. Boy how I waited for that moment, and it slipped by me just like that.

Was I a failure? Or did I merely fall down? The truth is, I felt like a failure. How come I spoke too long? And how did I forget the last paragraph. I was eating myself up. I had waited so long for this exam, I had learned and prepared for so many hours how did I mess up? I was trying to see the bright side and see how it’s all from above and that this is what Hashem wanted for me. However, it wasn’t working. I was feeling so down I really felt that all my studying was for nothing.

I decided to go to sleep, nothing was working anyway. When I woke up, I tried to think whether I’m really a failure or did I just fall down. Falling down had some hope immersed within its meaning. If someone falls down, they can get up. Sometimes we can get up right away and other times it can take a while. In my case, I felt that I could get up again. Not right away, but I felt like there was hope somewhere down the road. And even if I didn’t know when exactly I would get a second chance at this test, I no longer felt like I was a loser and a total failure.

I can’t say that I don’t think about that exam daily and that recurring thoughts of, ‘if I would have just said this, or would have just done that,’ do creep into my mind constantly. I just try to remind myself that it’s all good and all from G-d, and that Hashem always gives second chances. I’m waiting for mine.

In the meantime, I am successful at getting up each and every time I feel like crying that I didn’t pass. I tell myself that I will succeed next time. I’m not a failure, I just fell down, and am working very hard at getting up. My efforts in Hashem’s eyes make me pass His tests with flying colors every day.


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Michal can be reached at [email protected]