He sits near the hospital bed, aching.
Waiting, watching, and hoping.
It’s been so long since the accident, but he refuses to leave the boy’s side.
“No change,” they always say. “The longer he is like this, the less likely it is that he will emerge from this state.”
They tell him to go home. Change his clothes. Find a hobby. Move on.
But he stays.
His only son smiles – even laughs occasionally – his eyes unfocused and unseeing, but his brain, it’s even further away.
It’s the boy’s obliviousness which hurts him the most. How is he so gleeful, so out-of-it, so unaware of the gravity of the situation?
This child was his tomorrow, his whole world, his reason for existence.
How he wishes he could just gently shake the boy awake, as he used to, so many moons before.
It’s like there is this empty shell, just sitting there foolishly grinning at nothing all day long.
Where is he really? Where is his son, this child he lives for? Is he in pain, does he feel trapped? Is his spirit peacefully floating among the mountaintops somewhere? Does he long to be held, does he hear his father’s voice, does he appreciate the warmth of his father’s constant presence? Or is he gone forever?
There are no answers, yet he stays.
Because every once in a while, there is a hint, a glimpse, of understanding. The boy will look confused, scared even, and briefly meet his father’s worried eyes. Sometimes a tear will even fall. And then it’s back to oblivion.
But those moments, they make his father go on. Because this means there might be something left inside, something real, something alive. A spark that might, just might ignite the pile of ashes and form a bright light once again.
So our Father just keeps on waiting.
This Tisha B’av, let’s give Him a moment of lucidity. Let’s forget about all the nothingness we busy ourselves with day after day after day. Let’s focus on what is really important, on what we lost, and what we should long to have once again.
We owe it to Him, as the child He waits for and watches, the one He lives for.
And maybe, just maybe, we can make it last longer than a day. Maybe this will be the beginning of The End.
(This post was partially based on a mashal that I heard from someone, somewhere, once upon a time. If anyone has a source for a similar parable about Am Yisrael being compared to a sick child, please let me know, and I will credit them properly. Also, please excuse the poor editing – I was in a rush to get this up before Tisha B’Av.)
Seriously, the man is a giant.
I just called our Rav, a man who is very much considered a right-wing gadol across-the-board today, to ask him some work related questions.
I work in a medically related field, and I had a couple of halachic questions to ask.
Some of these questions involved issurim mi’deoraisa – things that the Yeshivish world that I am (usually) part of consider yehareg ve’al yaavor – things that everyone I know is super-duper machmir on.
Because I work mostly in the therapies (like any nice Jewish girl), and some of the things I was inquiring about were not medically necessary, I was sure that he would say to avoid whatever I can.
Boy, was I wrong.
The only thing he did jokingly warn me about was the fact that my frum colleagues might look at me funny.
I’m all for following the rules – both to the letter of the law, and in the spirit of it – but why is it that so many choose to be frummer than halacha?
Tonight we count nine days into sefiras haomer.
That leaves us with 40 days until Shavuos.
The number 40 is often said to have many mystical qualities – none of which I actually know much about. I have heard much on the topic, but I generally gravitate toward the more concrete aspects of Judaism for now.
I do know that Rav Elimelech MiLizensk says that it takes 40 days to change a bad middah.
I wanted to try this for quite awhile, but 40 days always sounded like an awfully long time.
Somehow in the context of the weeks of sefira, it seems more attainable.
I think I might try it, but now that I am actually contemplating it, I fear that it might take me considerably longer than 40 days to settle on a middah to try and change.
There are so many to choose from. I was thinking that I might target procrastination or laziness, but it’s really hard to decide.
Maybe I’ll start thinking about it now for next year… 😉
Five years ago today, I was a total wreck.
It’s not even that I liked him (I didn’t), it was more the injustice of the whole situation.
One comment that his father didn’t like settled the whole thing. Either way, it was over.
All those roiling emotions kept me busy for quite some time. The despair (“I will never ever get married with this stupid system in place!”), the frustration (“I can’t even go back and clarify what I meant!”), and the anger (“How dare he, after all the idiosyncrasies I overlooked!). It was all I could think about for days.
Five years later, I struggle to remember all the details. My new navy wool coat, pointy black heels, a quiet Manhattan hotel lounge. The weirdness of an Erev Bedikas Chametz date. His hand shaking violently as he poured water into my glass, and my suppressed giggle (Boy, am I intimidating!)…
It was everything then; it is nothing now.
I guess it pays to remember these things once in a while.