I love to sing, but venues for frum women who sing are few and far between. I have to settle for kvelling when I listen to the men in my family lead the prayers in shul.
Then again, I can always go to a concert, and that is what I recently did. I attended a Shwekey concert.
There were several developmentally disabled young adults and children in the audience. I couldn’t help but noticing a particular young man, whom I will call Tzviki. When the ushers instructed each guest to hand in his ticket, Tzviki dutifully handed his in.
Tzviki stood for most of the performance, swaying to the music. At times, he walked up to the front of the stage and waved to the percussionist, who was happy to return his greeting.
Tzviki’s rhythm was perfect, and he sang along with the performers, who encouraged several of their “special guests” to participate.
My eyes filled with tears as I watched Tzviki and the other special folk. For a few moments, the joy on their faces mirrored the soaring of their neshamos. For those few minutes, they forgot their daily existence, which is a struggle both for them and for their families.
There is not one family that does not have, or does not know of a family that is experiencing these special challenges. We struggle to understand Hashem’s ways.
Sometimes, we are able to accept that each neshama was sent to earth to fulfill some special mission that needs to be completed. Yes, we know that. But we are only human, and we cry as we watch our “special” children struggle to do the everyday things that most can do without missing a beat.
Imagine a baby too weak to cry. How we beg Hashem to make the baby strong enough to cry and to keep his parents up at night! Oh, the things we sometimes take for granted!
When I was growing up, I had a neighbor named Angel. She had Downs Syndrome. Her parents kept her locked up in a basement apartment. They were elderly and left specific instructions that Angel should always have a home. She was an “angel,” yet she was kept caged, like an animal!
We, as a society, have come a long way since the 1950’s when Angel was born, but we still have a long way to go.
Yes, there are many wonderful fundraisers today for special folks. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us that “Raising up many students” (Pirkei Avos) means that every Jewish neshama should have a proper Jewish education. The Rebbe continued that running a school for only the best and the brightest was unacceptable. Not only must we teach our children the concept that “Moshe commanded us the Torah” from the cradle, but it is incumbent upon us to bring all of Hashem’s children to Torah and to mitzvos.
I return to the lovely music, the excitement, the clapping. Music is the expression of the soul. Music frees the neshama from bodily limitations.
We are ready Hashem … we are ready to make that final trek to the Beis HaMikdash with each and every one of Your precious kinderlach walking upright, whole, and healthy, to serve You with unimpeded joy.
Dedicated with love to Ahuva Esther bas Rivka.