Life is such a fragile thing, isn’t it? We don’t like to think of it as being so (especially if we’re parents), because it would make it too hard to function, in some way, if we really ‘got’ how temporary everything is.
But when we don’t grasp the ephemeral nature of life, we can so easily end up missing the whole point of being alive.
The same day I got the terrible news of the car crash involving the Rav’s son and family, my daughter’s pet bird died. (I’m not for one moment suggesting there’s a parity, G-d forbid.)
But my daughter loved her pet, as children do, and was terribly distraught for two days’ afterwards. She also has a hamster, and now that the bird had gone, she was worrying that something ‘bad’ was going to happen to her other pet.
When she found out about the car crash, that seemed to tip her over into some massive ‘where is G-d’ moments, and she was really angry that G-d could let so many apparently horrible things happen in the world.
‘Why was G-d killing innocent pets, and even more innocent people?’ she wanted to know. ‘How can G-d be good, if He’s doing things like that?’
These are not simple questions.
They go to the heart of what it means to really live our emuna. They underpin a whole worldview, and whole perception of life down here as just being ‘prep time’ for the place where it’s really happening.
If it was just the bird, I probably would have managed it better. Bird and crash together meant that G-d was giving me a big exam in emuna, too. Because kids know when you’re sincere, or when you’re just parroting ‘religious’ stuff at them because it’s the right thing to do, and not because you really believe it yourself.
We ended up having a long discussion about it (relatively – she is still 11), and I can’t say that I totally convinced her, at least, not initially, that there was a big plan and that everything was exactly how it should be.
As I was talking to her, I could see I still needed some convincing myself. I mean, Rav Arush is my rabbi, and as I’ve posted here a few times already, he is a very holy, kind, humble, sincere person. And so are his kids.
On some level, I hate what’s just happened.
On some other level, I know that what Rav Arush himself wants from me is to NOT question G-d’s ways, and to accept 100% that G-d is only good.
I went to a ladies’ prayer thing at the yeshiva yesterday, for the refuah of R’ Shimon and his family, and that message came across loud and clear:
We do not question Hashem’s ways!
Rav Arush and his family are being tested so hard because he’s standing in the breach for Am Yisrael. We moan about our parnassa, or about our housing, or about our pet bird dying – instead of trying to be grateful for all the blessings G-d is continually doing for us, and all that complaining creates a massive spiritual debit against Am Yisrael.
That our tzaddikim pay off with their mesirut nefesh and suffering.
But I don’t want Rav Arush to suffer any more on my account!
The other thing that came across loud and clear from my prayer thingy is that GRATITUDE is the main area that really needs the work.
The more I, you, everyone, says ‘thank you’ to G-d, the easier it’s going to be for all of us.
I’ve struggled to really be grateful, especially recently. But I decided I owe it to Rav Arush – and the other tzadikim who are holding the fort for Am Yisrael – to really give it my best shot, now.
I want to hear good news from the hospital. I want to enjoy my own temporary life as much as I can, while I’ve still got it. I want geula to come fast, the sweet way. And I want to really show my children that G-d IS good, even when their pet bird dies unexpectedly. And I think working on my gratitude, and my emuna, is the only way I’m going to be able to do it.