Having said several kapitlach of Tehillim, I decided it was time to check out my surroundings. Here I was sitting in a posh heimishe dental office in Williamsburg, serenaded by soft music, and surrounded by proper reading material. Thanking Hashem one more time that it was my friend in the dental chair and not myself (such a loyal friend that I am), I decided to indulge in some reading. The first periodical that I picked up had an article that caught my eye and heart. It was entitled Orphans No More. I could not put it down!
“They’ve lost their families, have seen their mothers slaughtered, and they come here (the orphanage) filled with aggression – devastated, broken, and grieving. They suffer from nightmares and sleeplessness…Gay Bradshaw, (a psychologist from Oregon) says (that) ‘the extreme psychological and physical trauma of witnessing their family members interferes with…normal development.’ Allan Schore, an expert on human trauma disorders at UCLA explains: ‘The emotional relationship between the mother and her offspring impacts the wiring of the infants’ developing brain. When early experiences are traumatic, there is a thinning down of the developing brain circuits, especially in the areas that process emotional information and regulate stress. That means less resilience and an enduring deficit in aggression regulation, social communication, and empathy.’”
I had wanted to read something light, but now, there was no stopping until I could learn more about this orphanage.
“…the majority of the orphans that survive recover to become fully functional… Whenever we get a new baby here, the others will come around and lovingly …comfort it. To date, S——‘s nursery has raised more than one hundred orphan(s)…It all stems from the… (Orphan’s) desire to please someone they love. It’s amazing and beautiful to see. With (orphans) you reap what you sow, and the way you get the most out of them is through love. ….the orphan that had been found with a spear lodged in her head…they didn’t expect her to make it through the first night…and she’s healed psychologically…she was extremely traumatized…but slowly she began to trust again, and after about a month she wasn’t just fine about people she was seeking them out.”
“Well” I mused to myself, “If the institution that cares for these orphans sent me a brochure with an appeal for help, my answer would be NO! I wouldn’t even give them one red cent!”
“Now that is cruel,” a voice inside me said. “How can you claim to be part of Klal Yisroel if you show no mercy?”
“The answer is still NO! I would give them absolutely nothing!”
“You should be ashamed of yourself. Anyone reading this heart rending article about those traumatized orphans would take out a loan – if they were short of money – to do this chesed.”
“Still I would not give them anything!”
“Yes, really. You see there is something I neglected to mention.”
“The article is talking about elephants!”
“ELEPHANTS? Did you say elephants?”
“Yes. It’s all about the elephants in Kenya. Here, look: National Geographic, the September 2011 issue, Orphans No More: After the trauma of attack and loss comes healing-and a richer understanding of the emotions and intelligence of elephants. The article’s author is Charles Siebert and it begins on page 40. Let me admit that the photographer Michael Nichols did an outstanding job of depicting the emotions of the elephants. Anyway, the mayse is azoi (the story is): there is a terrible situation where poachers come and kill parent elephants for their tusks leaving behind many orphans. Daphney Shedrick established a nursery for the orphaned elephants back in 1987. She is a fourth generation Kenyan. Her husband David was a renowned naturalist and warden of Tsavo East National Park. They established the Nairobi nursery and the vast network of rescue sites and orphanages for elephants in Kenya.”
“Still. Doesn’t it say that Hashem’s Mercy is upon all His creatures! Aren’t you supposed to emulate His ways?”
“I wouldn’t give a cent to the cause. The only image elephants conjure up in my mind is the horrible description my teachers gave of the Greeks using them to trample the Yidden in the time of the Chashmonaim. And when Morah -I forget her name- but, when she described how Shimon HaMaccabe was trampled to death by one of them- well I still get nightmares whenever I think about it…No, not one cent!”