Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Contemplating the Nature of Bracha

I spent this past Shabbos in Upstate NY. Nothing too unusual there, but, this time it was not because of an NCSY Shabbaton. Rather, I spent a Shabbat at "home". I can't remember the last time I did this. My family never really did Shabbos together, at least not with any consistency, and certainly not with any care toward Halachic (Jewish Law) practice or family experience, we certainly never sang.

But a lot has changed since my tumultuous childhood, and life has a funny way of coming around. So this past Shabbat I found myself in my childhood home, with two of my younger siblings (one of my sisters is in Israel for the year), and my father, having Shabbos meals with conversation and even zmirot (songs). The meals were meager (Deli for Dinner, Lox for Lunch), but the Tikkun (Reparation/Healing) was tremendous. This is what brings me to my discussion, the nature of Brachot (Blessings).

For those who've been following this blog at all, you'll already be aware of two key realities. First, My father is in need of a Heart transplant, and his health is less then steallar. Second, My family was anything but stable, and until recent times I'd had virtually no relationship with my parents at all, often not even knowing their whereabouts. The question I toy with is whether or not the first is somehow an answer to the second, a Bracha coming from G-d in a manner least expected and most bittersweet.

I've posted before about how I view my current presence in America, a result of Aliyah (moving to Israel) falling through, as a Bracha in disguise because it allowed me to be in America for my father and the rest of my family during a time of need. Yet now I wonder if that feeling of self sacrifise is not short sighted. Maybe it has less to do with my ability to be here for him, and more to do with us being here for each other. Could this be the divinely mandated method through which a relationship long torn asunder can finally be repaired?

This is but a component of a larger question. Can suffering be considered a Bracha? Even blessed with hindsight can one ever say that suffering was the only solution, or even valuable given the justification of the means towards the ends. How does one weigh the benefit of regaining a loved one, a father, a friend, versus the cost of human suffering, sickness, and confrontation with mortality. Can I be thankful for this set of circumstances which allowed Tikkun, or must I compartmentalize, thankful for the renewed relationship, but mournful over the set of events through which it transpired. If we are to give thanks to Hashem (G-d) for the blessings he bestows on us, where do we draw that line?

Alas, I have no answer. Certainly there are growing pains as my relationship with my father slowly regenerates, but overall, I am ultimately thankful to have had the opportunity to rebuild it. At the same time I suffer with my father because of his health and seemingly endless wait, fearful that, G-d forbid, he may be snatched from me just as I'm starting to draw close again. In the meantime I pray.

Thanks to everyone who continues to Daven (Pray) on behalf of my father. His name again is: Baruch Matan HaLevi ben Miriam Sarah. May Hashem grant him with Nachama (Comfort), Refuah (Healing), and Koach (Fortitude). And may we all be blessed to see the blessing G-d bestows upon us every day through his own special ways.


Joey Kandelman said...

My, you are a deep thinker. Refuah shelaimah to your father very soon.

Here are some thoughts to wrap your mind around. Unfortunately, I forget where I heard this from but here goes.

Moshe Rabenu had an incredible bredth and depth of knowledge. Not only did he know all of the written Torah, but the oral Torah and kabballah as well. He needed to be an expert on all of the above, if he was going to transmit kol hatorah kulah to Klal Yisroel. He asked to see Hashem, and Hashem showed Moshe the knot in his tefillin, whatever that means (I won't go into it now, I'm sure you've heard some of the commentaries on it). At around this point, Hashem offered Moshe the ability to know why good things happen to bad people and why bad things happen to good people - not in the abstract philisophical sense, but in a very clear, specific way. Moshe rejected this offer, because he wanted to be able to judge people favorably and to pray for mercy even for those who do not deserve it.

This world is olam chesed yibaneh. God created this world as a 100% altruistic act. He gets no benefit from our existence. Everything we own and experience in this world is a gift, even if we cannot understand why it is good. Kol davar rachmana li'tava. All things which happen in life are for the best; they are part of the Divine plan and therefore are good.

I'll end with a mashal: A mother takes her infant for shots to prevent disease. The infant has a very limited knowledge of the world around him, but he knows that she loves him and takes care of him. One day, she takes him into a foreign building, where she hands him to a stranger in a white coat. That man takes a massive sharp object and stabs the infant with it. The infant does not know that it is a doctor innoculating him. All the infant is capable of understanding is why did my mother do this? He can either hate her for putting him in harm's way or he can say "mom knows what is best for me, even if I cannot understand."

rebecca said...

In A Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

-----by runescape gold