Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I really think there must be something very wrong with me! I am an enigma according to woe-laden, guilt-stricken, loveless and miss-begotten humans of this generation. Reading your column religiously every weeks (and biting my nails on the weeks it is absent from the paper, fearing it has fallen victim to the state of our economy), I think I am either the most fortunate of men or the most foolhardy of my species because I have come to accept the fact that I have nothing to complain about or lust after to the point of obsession nor would I even have wanted to change my life in any way for any reason. So, you must be thinking, why is this fool writing to me and why am I even bothering to read further? The answer to both these questions will reveal themselves to you as you read on.
You have been a good friend to me from a very early age, from when you began with the ‘Agunah Chronicles.’ Even though we never met in person, to my regret, you still impacted my life in the best way possible.
When I was a very young child who had been born with many physical disabilities, my father, who was ashamed and repulsed by my visage added one more, he struck me in the back of my head for some minor indiscretion which caused me to go blind. I was taken to live with strangers, going from one home to the next, a prisoner in life – both literally and figuratively – until I was thirteen years old. It was at that time living with a kind elderly couple who took care of me and loved me as their own son that I got to know you. The older gentleman, who with his wife eventually adopted me, would read portions of The Jewish Press, amongst them your column, out loud each Friday night at the Shabbos table because his wife’s vision was poor. This he did until he passed away ten years later and we all would talk about the pain of those who wrote to you. Sometime before his passing and after reading about a little girl born with a club foot, I think, he asked me if I felt as she did, unloved and cheated of a normal life. I thought for a moment, because I was no longer a little boy but a young man, and said that until he had read this letter, I never felt unloved, unwanted or undervalued as a person because I could not see. I think I saw deeper and understood life better than the kids with sight. All they saw was life’s ugliness, their failures and the lack of motivation to achieve, whereas I saw beautiful vibrant colors behind my sightless eyes and the great opportunity offered me each day upon my rising from sleep to achieve anything I set my mind and my heart on. My ‘father’ hugged me to him and told me that I was blessed.
After my adoptive parents had passed away, they left me well taken care of. I had many good friends and rebbeim who filled my daily life with joy and fraternity. When my good chevrusa suggested I start the shidduch parsha, I was a bit apprehensive the first time. After all, I was not one of the most desirable candidates as anyone’s life partner. It was the only time I questioned my ability to be successful as a husband and eventually, as a father. My dear friends rallied around me, my rebbeim encouraged me and so I did embark on the search for my life partner with an assurance and faith that there was such a person created by HaKodosh Baruch Hu just for me. I set aside the plight of all those agunos and sad letters I recalled from your columns with an assurance of faith and a determination that I would find my zivug. And I did! I met a lovely young lady who embraced my imperfections because she saw the person I was on the inside. Although she told me she, too, was imperfect and not visually appealing to look at, I found her to be a beautiful and endearing individual and felt we were made for each other. We were both imperfectly perfect to the rest of the world but perfectly perfect for each other. So we married and had four wonderful and loving children.
Our home was filled with songs and love and caring and respect. The community in which we lived made all of us feel welcome and respected. My wife and I never felt unworthy or unwanted, just the opposite, we had all the beautiful things we needed, the warmth of friendship, the helping hands, when we needed them, readily and willingly available with any assistance and so we were happy. I had a job working with the blind in the area, both young and old and I was fulfilled. I learned as well as gave shiurim and was sought after to speak at events which afforded my wife the luxury of staying home to raise our children and as I had done in my youth, she read The Jewish Press with your column every Friday night and we both benefited from your sage advice and more often than not, it helped us through the few rough spots we encountered along the way, just as if you were sitting at the Shabbos table with us.
The children grew up and married, but they all live close to us. Sadly, my wife’s condition has worsened over time and as we got older, she was forced to get around in a wheelchair and needs in home care to feed herself and to care for her personal needs. I, too, have been dealt an unexpected blow, having been diagnosed with a terminal condition that didn’t leave me too much time to put my life in order. But as always, with Hashem’s help, I found the strength and wherewithal to make sure my beloved wife would be well cared for, my children and grandchildren will always remember how blessed we were to have them given to us and the love and the joy they gave us, through tapes and videos we made. And through the personal letters to each and every one of them and to all those who made a huge imprint on my life. These will have been distributed upon my petirah and that is why you are reading this now, as the realization becomes apparent that I am no longer here.
I wish to thank you for enforcing the sense of hope that life is worth living, regardless of the obstacles along the way, the ability to find the beauty and nachas ruach amidst the darkness and the determination to forge a path, no matter how difficult, to reach the light. May Hashem Yisborach give you koach in abundance to be able to continue in your effort to help others as you have helped me and may my life story help others understand that with emunah shelaima to help you overcome the impossible, the inner eye of emunah, to reveal the beauty and goodness that lives in all of us if we only look past our imperfections and accept that we are all flawed but still worthy of forgiveness, as HaKadosh Baruch Hu forgives us. Only then will Klal Yisrael be zoche to bring Moshiach bimhayrah.
I received this letter a few weeks ago and have been grappling with whether to print it as I had no way to check its authenticity. there were no markings on the envelope, no return address or even postmark, indicating it had been hand-delivered. I grappled with making some changes or leaving certain parts out but there was something about the tone and the need in the letter to leave everything as is. I am still very much affected by its content and by the message it imparts at a time when we have become dehumanized in so many ways and have lost sight of what is important in life. I also felt that I had no right to tamper with the words of someone who wished to be heard and was no longer here.
I hope that whoever reads this will take away from it a message of hope and courage to go on with life even during the hardest of times and that even when putting one foot in front of the other becomes a Herculean task, we look to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His ever-present love and help to see a way forward.