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What is the Jewish perspective on special needs children?


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Mrs. Shaffer: can I help you?:)

Abigail: What is the hashkafic [Jewish thought] perspective on special needs children?

Mrs. Shaffer: what do you mean?

Mrs. Shaffer: I'm not sure what your question is....

Abigail: what is their role in society? why does God create people who have such a low level of understanding that they are unable to perform so many mitzvahs?

Mrs. Shaffer: no single person in the entire world can judge what the reason is for someone's being created

Mrs. Shaffer: many great Jewish rabbis of the past, and present, have said that these children, whose abilities seem so limited, are people whose souls are of the highest level, and therefore do not require the same performance of mitzvahs as most other people

Mrs. Shaffer: in fact, one great rabbi (I don't remember exactly who, and don't want to misrepresent him) used to stand up when a person who was mentally or emotionally disabled would walk into the room!

Mrs. Shaffer: he'd stand up out of respect for that soul!

Mrs. Shaffer: so...the worth of a human being, and the purpose for his/her being created, is not something anyone of us can determine....

Mrs. Shaffer: our obligation is to give these children all that they need, including the respect and dignity that is the entitlement of every human being

Abigail: thank you for your response

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


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Posted by: Anonymous, S. Barbara, CA on Nov 03, 2005

Wow, what a powerful statement about honoring another human being, one which society would normally look down upon! How our world would be transformed and the light of Mashiach would break off the darkness if we would "stand up" and honor G-d and all of His creation (every living soul).

honor disabled people

Posted by: Eduard Nilno, Germany on Jul 07, 2006

Thank you very much - this article has answered once and for ever any question about disabled people. I am touched deep down to the heart of my heart...

You've opened my eyes....

Posted by: Chotzi on Aug 14, 2006

Wow, what a beautiful response, Mrs. Shaffer.

Disabled children

Posted by: Gilbert Mane, Belrose, NSW, Australia on Jan 22, 2007

I am a Headmaster of a primary school in Sydney and we have had many disabled children at our school. Without any doubt these children, obviously, deserve honour and respect. They have a wonderful effect on other children and teachers, who learn compassion, respect and an appreciation that their own lack of disability is a gift of G-d. One boy with very severe cerebral palsy was so joyful that he was everyone's best friend. When he was in pain, which was frequently - he could spasm and break his own bones - he was so stoic that it was inspiration to everyone. The answer about not judging was wonderful. These children do a great service and in many cases they are obviously advanced souls sent for our benefit.

special needs children

Posted by: special needs childs proud grandma, encino, ca on Feb 03, 2010

please pass on these article to all parents, family members and educators who need to hear the wisdom of how very special a special needs child is!

Special needs children need all the love and hugs and kisses we can all give them! They need to be treated with the love and dignity they so deserve! They each need to be treated as a special gift from G-d! They did not ask to be born with special needs, but yet they can conquer all their problems with lots of continuous love and understanding!

We should all be so very thankful for all our blessings in life. My most special blessing is my beautiful, loving, bright, intelligent, funny, very huggable, very charming, very sensitive, very loved grandchild who has major sensory issues!!! Nothing hurts me more than people who talk about him without realizing he understands their unkind words, or people who don't include him because they feel he is not able to be part of the group! Include a special needs child in your life!

Special Needs Children

Posted by: Beth Inglis, Melbourne, VIC, Australia on Jun 01, 2010

Thank you for this inspiring article. I am a disabled person with cerebral palsy. More specifically I have spastic diplegia - which means if affect all four limbs of my body. And I'm also deaf in my left ear.

Looking back at my school years (I'm 23) it was really hard for me. I was bullied because I was different. Maybe because of my disabilities, I'm not sure. It was really hard to accept myself for who I was, since being a child with special needs - it was very easy for other kids to make fun of me.

Now, that I'm an adult - I realize that everyone is special in their own way. Just because some are different, they are still a person with feelings, and a human being. They have the ability to have an affect on people.

Thank you for posting this article online. It's given me confidence in myself that I am and everyone is...special and important. Each of us has an important role to play in this wonderful life.


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