Thursday, March 30, 2023

This week, as Chani was getting ready to leave for her scheduled doctor’s appointment, our almost 3-year-old son, Dovid, said to her: “You no need to go doctor, Mommy. I give you kiss and make it all better!”

In Dovid’s mind it makes perfect sense. After all, whenever he gets a boo boo, Mommy or Abba give him a kiss and it makes everything better (if he gets a band-aid too, even more so).

Why does every parent offer their young children a kiss as the ultimate panacea?

Every physical wound carries with it some modicum of emotional pain as well. When we feel hurt we crave TLC. We want to know that someone cares about our pain and that we are not alone with our hurt.

A parent’s loving kiss and embrace provides that added dose of love. While it cannot take away the physical pain, the feeling of being cared for and cherished makes the pain more bearable, sometimes completely.

The greatest suffering of all is when it is borne in silence. When one feels abandoned, as if his pain and travails don’t matter to anyone, that causes the deepest and most personal suffering.

Holocaust survivors have noted that one of the myriad disturbing facets of the Holocaust was the fact that almost no one outside the ghetto or the concentration camp walls seemed to care. The utter poverty and rampant disease in the ghetto, the smoke rising from the crematoria, as well as the horrible stench of burning human flesh in the camps, was unmistakable. Yet no one bat an eyelash.

The pain of loneliness magnifies all suffering exponentially.

Today, the Jewish world has incredible chesed organizations. Families suffering with a sick child, r”l, have many resources and organizations ready to help. Their chesed is above and beyond. While they cannot change the illness, they are able to help those suffering feel they are not alone. That kiss of love is priceless.

On the other hand, I once heard from a mother who has a teen son “at risk” lament that there are hardly any resources to help her and her family cope with her familial tumultuous and painful roller coaster. What’s more, people judge her and her family, and instead of compassion she ends up feeling blamed and somewhat ostracized, if even unwittingly.

The same painful truth has been expressed by divorcees.

The opening extant cry of Megillat Eichah is that the bustling city of Yerushalayim has become like a widow. Beyond the pain of destruction and calamity is the anguish of isolation. We can provide that kiss of love that breathes life into those who crave it so much.

During these days of national mourning when we contemplate redemption and focus on the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters in klal Yisrael, it behooves us to try to give that proverbial nonjudgmental kiss, to mitigate their suffering, if even just a little.

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as guidance counselor and fifth grade rebbe in ASHAR, and principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He also presents parenting classes based on the acclaimed Love and Logic methods. His email address is: [email protected] His website is: www.stamtorah.info.


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