It was a small room, a corner really, decorated with rich fabrics and gold tassels. There was an air of royalty, palpable with every bated breath.
We entered slowly, wondering how we had come to be before this holy man.
He was sitting on a throne behind a table sagging under the weight of sorrows and pains. He studied me as though he could hear the thumping of my racing heart. His eyes were a sea of calm and serenity. With one small smile, my heart was eased. We sat down and he motioned for us to speak. Haltingly, painfully, we built the story, expressed our anguish and looked to him for hope.
“I’ll tell you a something,” he said. “I once had a man tell me that he was a heretic because of a halacha that went against what he considered to be humane. If a person’s father dies, and he leaves him a large inheritance, he must say Baruch Dayan HaEmes and then Shehecheyanu. This man was so distraught by the apparent insensitive nature of the halacha that he totally abandoned Yiddishkeit. I told him, ‘What would you have liked? Would you rather that you lose a father and mourn for six months, and then one day I tell you, now rejoice that you have riches? What a waste of time! You could have had some comfort! The halacha is there to teach us that we can and should embrace ALL the emotions one situation can bring up!’ So you see what I’m saying,” and here he smiled at me in particular, “It’s alright to feel as you do. The heart is very big. It is very deep and very strong. It can feel a loss as deeply and darkly as you feel right now and at the same time have that glow of happiness you are radiating. Look at yourselves! Look at the joy you have! Yes, you cry at night. So cry! Buy you can also dance – dance and sing and clap for joy!” The twinkle in his eye burned bright for a moment as he lowered his voice a notch. “You might want to dance on the rooftops at night, where no one can see you, but,” and here his voice rose with his arm, “but dance away!”
I read the news last night and cried my heart out.
The pictures I saw today tore into my soul.
The pain, the suffering, washed over me with no relief.
And then my son started laughing at the discovery of his own feet. He pushed himself backwards all over the kitchen floor, giggling like a jolly old man. I sat on the floor, crouched over his ever-moving body, and laughed like a mad-woman. Hysterically, I thought of how much I wanted to be crying, and how I could not hold in this joy. And I remembered the man with the endless eyes and the glimmering smile, and I knew that we would be alright.
We will all be alright.