Lest my critics and detractors feel spurned, they may rest assured that their passionate rebuttals lent spice to the column and their spunk is deserving of mention.
To the doctors, attorneys, therapists and rabbinic authorities who so readily and graciously dispensed their insight and opinion… your altruism is truly humbling and I thank each one of you on behalf of readers whose anxieties you mollified.
I’d like to share a story, if I may… a remarkable chronicle borrowed from a Shabbos Hagadol sermon given by the Kossoner Rebbe of Forshay in Monsey. On a visit to Paris earlier that year, the Rebbe learned of a fascinating occurrence that involved a wealthy French Jew who lived in a luxurious penthouse apartment. This Parisian kept mostly to himself and was only vaguely familiar with his only neighbor (on the top floor).
One day they happened on one another in the hallway, and in the course of a casual conversation the neighbor disclosed a confidence: As he was married to the previous queen of Morocco, the current reigning King of Morocco was his stepson. The neighbor further divulged that the monarch visited every now and then to see his mother – but of course in utmost secrecy, due to security concerns.
Intrigued, the Jewish man wondered out loud whether it would be possible for him to catch a glimpse of the king on his next stopover. It wasn’t long before the neighbor called his new acquaintance to come and meet his royal guest.
The Jewish man brought his 13-year-old son along for the historic visit, during which the monarch engaged them in amicable discussion. Upon discovering that the boy had recently become “bar mitzvah,” the king expressed genuine curiosity about the meaning of this milestone.
The youngster explained that he was now answerable for his actions, as well as obligated to fulfill the Torah commandments. The boy also talked about the festiveness of the occasion celebrated with family and friends.
On the following day the neighbor called to invite them again, this time at the behest of the king… who congratulated the boy on his bar mitzvah achievement and handed him an envelope stamped with the royal seal.
How shocked were father and son to find a check made out to the boy in the amount of $50,000! The father cordially protested the magnanimous gift and tried to impress upon the king that a lesser amount would do for a boy of thirteen. Whereas the monarch concurred with the father in principle, he elucidated that as King of Morocco, a gift offering of lesser value would not befit his honor and royal station.
When this Parisian Jew later visited the Holy Land, he related the story to Rav Chaim Kanievsky who somberly drew a parallel of the incident with the plea – “Our Father, our King, do for Your own sake and not for our sake…” in the Avinu Malkeinu tefillah.
The Rav explained that when we beseech the Almighty to take pity on us on Rosh Hashanah and during Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, we come up woefully short on our own merits and so plead with Hashem to have mercy on us for His sake, to deal with us in a manner befitting the King of Kings – with an overabundance of compassion, benevolence and kindness, to enable us to serve Him as befits His absolute sovereignty.
Just a bit of sage counsel for us to bear in mind all year round – for even as we avail ourselves of therapists (or a Dear Rachel column on occasion) for guidance, we must constantly be aware that there is nothing besides Him – Ein od milvado. Every breath we take, every move we make, is achievable only by the grace of our Creator – the only One we can truly place our faith and hope in. Such mindfulness at every turn is sure to lighten our burdens as we await and anticipate the end to all our troubles and a new beginning… may that day be upon us soon.