Being a ba'al teshuva, Aba has some guilt over things he did during his wayward youth. One of the largest guilt producers is his choice to travel Europe and study the great architecture of the classical regions. He wishes he would have studied in yeshiva and learned more. Never mind the fact that he was not at the point where learning was a serious option for how to spend that summer.
I've told him often a variation on "everyone has a path" and "if you hadn't spent that time studying, you wouldn't have the skills to do what you now do" but that missed opportunity of youth haunts him.
This week's haftorah deals with Rahav the "innkeeper" (read: harlot) who helped Caleb and Joshua. She ended up converting, marrying Joshua and becoming the ancestor of eight kohanim and prophets. Why did she merit such descendents?
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha, in this week's email, explains that Rahav reached such heights because she used the tools of her sin to repent. The rope and window that allowed men to enter her home were used to lower Caleb and Joshua safely out of the city.
And so I found myself last night sharing this with Aba. The knowledge that he gained during that summer touring Europe has allowed him to design synagogues, religious schools and kosher restaurants. He has even designed (though it was vetoed by the army) a new hechal at Ma'arathaMachpelah.
It takes time to release the guilt of a decade, though.
I encourage all women to sigh up for Rebbetzin Chana Bracha's email about the weekly haftorah and to purchase her book Women at the Crossroads about the weekly parasha. Both are very inspirational.