It’s my nature. If I have questions I have to ask. This became a very important tool for me to help me get through difficult times. I have called so many different rabbonim and speakers to ask them questions on something they said or wrote. My family would laugh at me when I would report back and say, “This time I called Rabbi…” But I really find that it helps – a little more understanding on difficult subjects helps me to get through difficult challenges.
In the previous Links magazine, Rabbi Henoch Plotnick wrote an article. No surprises that I had questions after reading the article. And this time I was fortunate that his number was written right there under his article. That made it really easy to call.
So I dialed his number and told him my name and maiden name; we do have a mutual connection, so that took away some of the awkwardness. I began by telling him that I have questions about the following part of his article:
I once found myself being menachem avel a father who lost his teenage son to leukemia. In such a circumstance, one is often better off saying nothing. However, the broken father begged me to say something, anything! I shared with him a ma’amar Chazal…with Hashem putting the words into my mouth. The Gemara related that when a parent loses a child, r”l, any evil decrees against the parents are ripped up, as the deceased child enters the next world and pleads, “How could you give them retribution in the Next World if you have already given them such torture In this world?” I simply shared with this emotionally pained father that his yissurim were not without purpose or benefit. They might be his ticket to Olam Haba.
Rabbi Plotnick then goes on to relate that after the shivah he heard that this tanchum resonated a lot because the father understood that his tzaros had value. There was something in it for him.
I questioned him about the Chazal that when a parent loses a child, any evil decree is ripped up. My family continued to have a lot of suffering after my brother died and again after my sister died. So what does that Gemara mean? Of course, there isn’t any real answer because we don’t know much down here, but we spoke about the hashkafos of emunah and discussed stories of tzaddikim accepting their yessurim.
During the conversation, I stated that I wish I could have one dream or one conversation with one of the family members of mine who was niftar. I want to hear that they have insight into what happened and how it all makes so much sense. And even more, I want to hear that they are all doing well and are very happy up there.
Maybe one day I’ll be zoche to that.
As we were wrapping up the conversation, Rabbi Plotnick said to me, “I’ll tell you a secret. The conversation I had with that grieving father – that was with your father. Not only that, but I repeat it all the time to grieving parents and they are mechazeik from it. And each time it gives chizzuk, your father and brother have an aliyah.”
I got the goosebumps. A conversation that my father had many years ago is still out there. It is still being talked about and written about, and it even came my way to help comfort me. Was this my daddy throwing me down a, “Hello, I’m still connected to you”?
This conversation took place on כח ניסן, during the early evening hours. My father’s yahrtzeit is onכט ניסן . We were just an hour or two away from the yahrtzeit.
No, I still didn’t have that dream. But as I approached this hard day for me, I was remembering my father’s wave. And I think he was telling me, “We are okay, and it all makes sense.”
May his neshamah have many continued aliyahs.
This article originally appeared in Links magazine and appears here with permission.