The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
When the shrill sound of the telephone ringing shattered the silence in our home at 5:30 in the morning on Monday, October 18, I got out of bed and answered the call with great trepidation and a sense of dread. I realized that if someone was calling our house that early in the morning, it was in all likelihood not good news. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to my father-in-law, who, in a trembling voice, told me my sister-in-law had passed away suddenly. I then had to turn to my wife and gently tell her that her sister was gone.
That phone call began a whirlwind of events: planning a funeral, working out the details of the shiva, explaining to our children that their aunt had died. Working through our grief and the shock of such a sudden loss, we somehow dealt with all the pressing issues that had to be immediately addressed.
As we were dealing with this unspeakable tragedy, we were simultaneously preparing for the birth of our fourth child. My wife, who had a Caesarian section scheduled for just eleven days after her sister passed away, spent a great deal of time during the shiva fielding questions about how she was faring with the pregnancy.
The week of shiva was utterly exhausting for all of us, especially for my wife, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law, who were mourning their loss. My wife left the shiva house late Sunday night after having received a steady stream of visitors throughout the day, and, though she was physically and emotionally drained, she went to sleep taking solace in the fact that the seemingly endless week of shiva was coming to a close the next morning.
Just a few hours later, at 1:30 in the morning, my wife’s water broke. Ironically, just as the phone call from my father-in-law exactly a week earlier had set into motion a dizzying sequence of events, so too we began our Monday with a flurry of activity. We called the doctor, who told us to go to the hospital immediately. The medical staff monitored my wife throughout the remainder of the night, and the doctor performed a C-section early Monday morning, four days earlier than originally scheduled.
My oldest child was breech, and therefore the doctor at that time was compelled to perform a Caesarian section, as opposed to opting for a natural delivery. After the first C-section, we had scheduled C-sections for each of the next two pregnancies, and both children were born on the dates their respective C-sections were slated for. There had been no reason in our minds to think things would be different with our fourth child.
At 7:22 a.m. – the same time the last minyan in the shiva house was taking place – our daughter was born. Instead of being at her brother’s house and getting up from shiva with her father and brother, my wife was in the hospital having a baby.
The proximity between the two events was particularly striking. In the span of just one week’s time we personally experienced the high and low of the life cycle and rode our own personal emotional roller coaster.
We named our new daughter Orit Netanya – “God gave us light.” One week our world was plunged into darkness, and then the next week Hashem once again brightened our world and illuminated our lives. Thankfully, God gave us light when we needed it most.
Our entire family feels especially blessed by the birth of our daughter. Though her arrival in this world can in no way cancel out my sister-in-law’s sudden departure, her birth nonetheless lifted our spirits and helped fortify our faith in Hashem during an incredibly difficult and traumatic time.
The significance of having our daughter born several days before she was “scheduled” to arrive – at the very time my wife was “supposed” to be getting up from shiva for her sister – was not lost on us. We are big believers in hashgacha pratis, divine providence. We recognize the importance of seeing the Yad Hashem, the Hand of God, in everything that occurs during the course of our lives.
That being said, we are not always capable of discerning the Hand of God in every instance. However, in this situation, we certainly recognized, and very much appreciated, the Yad Hashem that was extended to our family.
But there is one other significance to the day our daughter was born that took our breath away and ensured that we could not possibly overlook the Yad Hashem that appeared so clearly before our eyes. Orit Netanya was born on the seventeenth day of the month of Cheshvan, which not only was the day my wife got up from shiva for her sister – it is also the yahrzeit of my wife’s mother.
Exactly seventeen years to the day before our daughter came into this world, my wife’s mother passed away unexpectedly. The day we commemorate her yahrzeit each year has always been a difficult one for my wife. We are especially blessed that God saw fit to help us instantaneously transform the seventeenth of Cheshvan into a day during which we not just mourn a loss but also celebrate a birth.
In times of tragedy, people’s faith in God is tested mightily. Maintaining a strong sense of belief in Hashem during times of personal crisis is often a powerful and daunting challenge. However, when Hepersonally reaches out His Hand, as He did in our situation, it serves to fortify our faith in the Almighty and bolster our belief that everything happens for a reason. In the midst of despair the Yad Hashem was there to lift us up, light up our lives, and remove the darkness that had enveloped our world with my sister-in-law’s passing.
God put forth His Hand, and we feel humbled and privileged that we were able to grab hold and benefit from His incredible compassion and indescribable kindness.
N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and a principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm.
About the Author: N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and a principal at Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. He also serves as director of communications and public relations for the National Council of Young Israel.
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