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Perpetuating life

by Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum

  

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Though difficult and incredibly time-consuming, I truly believe that the hours I spend counseling couples dealing with infertility and arranging Halachic supervision for their medical procedures are the single most important facets of my professional life.

No one should have to experience the trauma of dashed hopes and monthly despair that these brave people go through. I am in constant awe of the grace and patience demonstrated by so many couples under the most difficult of circumstances and during the most invasive of procedures. Functions and feelings that should ideally remain sacrosanct are stripped of passion and become the public property of the medical establishment.

Our volunteer mashgichot (halachic supervisors) consider it their privilege to play a small part in easing their pain and we pray that Hashem bless all families with healthy and happy children.

I often find myself repeating a phrase I heard from a visiting Rabbi. One of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, the Rabbi is renowned for his knowledge and sage advice. He’s the head of a large institution and spends his life helping and teaching. He has taken orphaned children into his own home and raised them till adulthood. A man of true compassion and brilliance, he would have made a wonderful father and yet he and his wife never had children of their own.

In his sweet-accented Yiddish he once remarked, “A yunger pohr vos hobben chasseneh un gleich hoben kinder, veisen nisht as es is doh a G-tt in velt!” which loosely translates as “young couples who have kids immediately after marriage, haven’t really discovered G-d.”

They’ve never had to pray or hope

When life runs smoothly without complications, we tend to take things for granted and expect to continue sailing along. Unfortunately, for most of us it is only when the arrows of misfortune strike that we wake up to the unfairness of life and the need to establish a personal relationship with our Creator.

It may be for this reason that Hashem described the manna that fell in the desert as a test of faith. I will rain bread from heaven. The people will gather their daily needs, so I can test them whether or not they follow my Torah (Beshalach 16:4). On first glance it seems counter-intuitive. The manna was a gift of G-d. It fell daily at our doorsteps, full of flavour and ready to eat. Life doesn’t come any easier than this, all your needs and aspirations lie spread out before you, ready to be enjoyed at leisure.

And yet, perhaps the true test of our faith is when the good times are rolling. It is natural to pray when the bullets are flying over the foxhole, but true character is shown when we realise our responsibilities without being pushed. Our chance to demonstrate faith is when the manna is falling, not when we’ve got to beg and scavenge for the keys to existence.

Nobody wants to be tested. We pray to Hashem to grant us the gifts of children, life and sustenance in a dignified and lavish manner. May G-d protect us all from the pangs of poverty, ill health and infertility. It may well be true that sufferers and survivors develop a deeper, richer perspective of life and Divinity, yet given the choice we’d much rather a life of quiet contentment rather than ride the roller-coaster of anguish.

We pray to Hashem for the privilege to pass the test of faith by staying true to Him even as he showers us with goodness. Let all of us be blessed not only with that which we request from G-d, but with all that we truly need.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

G-d » A Caring G-d

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Hashem
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
Yiddish
Language closely related to German commonly spoken by European Jews.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.