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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Mar Cheshvan’

A Watershed Moment

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Fifteen years ago, on a Shabbos Mevorchim leading up to a new month, my husband was leading the davening. I heard him intone, “Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av will be on…” But it wasn’t the month of Av, as the upcoming month was Mar Cheshvan. An audible gasp swept through the shul, and he immediately corrected himself.

Everyone soon forgot the mistake and continued with the services. But I was shaking with fear. Was this just a mistake, or was Hashem warning us of a calamity ahead? Here’s some background:

Our first grandchild, a boy, had just been born in Yerushalayim. The phone rang as we were cleaning the kitchen. My husband was in the sukkah folding chairs and tables, and our two youngest children were helping him.

Our daughter had had an emergency C-section because the baby was in distress. He was born weighing only three and a half pounds. I didn’t realize then that he was considered small for his gestational age. That night he seemed to be doing well, and we were ecstatic.

I had planned to help my daughter in Israel. Since the baby arrived early, I figured that the Bris would not be on time, giving me a few weeks to get ready. But the next day my son-in-law called and asked me to come immediately. The baby had developed an infection, and they needed my support. Concerned, I made an immediate reservation.

The Shabbos before my trip, my husband made the mistake of calling out the month of Av instead of Cheshvan. My mind immediately flooded with thoughts of foreboding and mourning, as Av is the month of tragedies for the Jewish people. Would my family now be experiencing a personal Tisha B’Av? Suddenly the seriousness of the baby’s condition seemed ominous, and I flew to Israel that night with a sense of apprehension. I was like a racehorse with blinders, running a race against the odds. I kept hearing my husband’s slip of the tongue – “Menachem Av.”

Babies aren’t supposed to die – and especially not my grandson. But my terrifying thoughts gained momentum.

Arriving in Israel, I busied myself encouraging my daughter and giving her strength and hope. But I found it harder to muster up positive feelings within myself.

For 28 days, we were on a roller coaster. We were swept from euphoria when the baby was stable to the type of sinking feeling when a roller coaster plunges. Our personal Tisha B’Av finally came when my grandson passed away at the end of Cheshvan.

The thought that my husband’s slip of the tongue had been a sign of what was to come remained with me for several years. Even though we experienced the joys of new grandchildren, a bar mitzvah and weddings, I couldn’t shake that incident from my mind.

Then something happened, and the thinking pattern that had haunted me from that Shabbos long ago shifted. I experienced a watershed moment that brought me to a new level of clarity and faith.

One summer afternoon after my mother had passed away, I was feeling especially melancholy. As tears came to my eyes I decided to say Tehillim, both for my own comfort and as a merit for my mother’s soul. The words in Tehillim made me cry out to Hashem, and reminded me of other times when I had turned to prayer for strength. I thought of the loss of my grandson. I remembered all the Tehillim we had said. And then it hit me that my thought processes all these years had been off track.

Although that month of Cheshvan was mar (bitter) and we experienced mourning, I now saw that the message in my husband’s slip of the tongue years earlier had been one of nechamah (comfort). After all, he had announced the month of Menachem Av (the comforting month of Av). I was now able to see past the pain, to the promise of nechamah.

It is said that Hashem sends the refuah (healing) before the makah (illness). And indeed Hashem had sent a message of nechamah to help me through a difficult journey. If only I had understood this from the beginning.

We all go through hardships that test our faith. The real test of our emunah is to see the promise within the pain.

Do you have a story to tell of a “watershed moment” in your life? This would be a story of a life-changing event that gave clarity to a challenge in your life. I am collecting these stories for possible publication in a book. Please send your original stories to watershed.moments@hotmail.com.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/31/08

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

The Sun Has Come Out For ‘Esther’
(See Chronicles 5-16, 5-23, 5-30, 8-1, 8-8)

Readers will surely recall the heart-tugging letters from “Esther” who was ridden by guilt for having rejected a fine young man based solely on their differing cultures and background. When the rebuffed suitor had taken ill and passed away shortly after Esther married another, our young lady was inconsolable. To augment her heartbreak, she found herself in an abusive marital relationship. And while she was mourning a tragedy that she was certain she had caused, her husband absconded with their two little sons.

For some 20-odd years, Esther has berated herself for her foolishness and callousness with which she had spurned “Aaron” and was convinced that losing her children was G-d’s way of punishing her for her sin.

In the column that featured Esther’s last letter (Chronicles 8-8), she was advised to put the past behind her. To quote from our reply, “Though we are taught to do teshuvah every day of our life here on earth, we are also admonished to serve Hashem with happiness and to believe that He is a merciful Father eager to forgive our wrongdoings. Having suffered so unbearably for so long, you must surely believe that G-d has forgiven you for the foolishness of your youth and that your ocean of tears has by now more than wiped your slate clean.”

Esther was further encouraged never to give up on her children whom she would be likely to meet up with one day. ” Now that you have finally allowed your oppressive pain to seep out, your story is being read by countless people globally. Anyone recalling an incident similar to the one you have described will alert “a someone else” and so on.

“It is well documented that adopted children generally grow up with an innate curiosity about their roots. That craving is even more prevalent among our people and many have left no stone unturned in trying to unearth details of their birth mother. G-d has instilled in the human heart of a parent a special bond to his/her child and in the heart of a child a special feeling for his/her parent – a kesher not easily broken.”

Just before Rosh Hashanah, this column heard from “Esther” again. With the advent of Mar Cheshvan, a month designated as mar (bitter) because it is devoid of holy days, I delight in bringing some sweet joy to you, our dear reader, who will certainly feel along with Esther once again.

Dear Rachel,

I wanted to update you on a number of recent occurrences in my life. I leave out much because it will take too long. However, I will continue to update you after the Holidays, bli neder, if you wish.

Rachel, it seems that the letters made huge waves everywhere.

I got a phone call one late night, shaking me out of another restless sleep. A gentle, male voice asked if I am so and so. I reacted with suspicion and demanded to know who was calling. The phone number had about 15 numerals, so obviously the caller was out of the U.S.

He managed to calm me down some and asked me to sit down, and then he said that he read the letters in The Jewish Press and became convinced that the writer must be me, “his mother,” and that he is my younger son (he gave me his TWO names).

I didn’t allow myself to be swayed and threatened to have the police trace the call. He reacted by telling me exactly where he was calling from. I then asked him to describe a distinctive physical mark of his, and he DID!

I screamed, stuttered, yelled and ran around the room like a devil possessed. I cried hysterically and he shushed me again and again. To make a long story short, he was now married and living in another country. He promised to come visit. I couldn’t sleep for the next two weeks!

He was coming to visit for five days so I took a week’s vacation. Two weeks later I waited for him at the airport, pacing nervously back and forth through the terminal. (I think I wore a hole in my shoes.) When they announced the arrival, I thought I swallowed my heart!

Rachel, he is tall, slim, dark, and was wearing a suit, looking typically Yeshivish. I recognized him immediately. I must have fainted because I suddenly felt someone washing my face and opened my eyes to see HIM bending over me and holding my head.

After the commotion and getting to my apartment, we talked and talked and talked. We tried to bridge the gap of so many years. Again and again I hugged and kissed him and he did the same with me. We’d go on talking till we were exhausted. We talked about everything under the sun. And then he had to fly back.

For two days after he left, I cried like a baby.

Rachel, I am suddenly ALIVE!

My boss graciously told me to take off the entire Yomim-Tovim season to go spend with my son. Next Thursday I will be flying to him and staying with his family (he has a little daughter) until after Simchas Torah.

Thank you, Rachel! You saved my life and brought me back not only a son but a full- fledged family!

I am suddenly very aware that there is happiness and joy in the world and the tears of both keep mingling. I’m sure (I hope?) that Aaron is happy for me and I will pray on Yom Kippur for his neshamah to find peace and tranquility.

Have a Ketivah V’Chatimah Tovah, a year of blessings. You have no idea how you are helping people by printing their story and by giving them your heartfelt advice and sympathy. You save many more lives than you can ever imagine.

You sure saved mine!

Readers, stay tuned

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-122/2008/10/29/

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