April 24, 2024
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The Lesson of the Maror

There have been many times that we have wondered why Hashem chose us to have four children with special needs. We have come up with all kinds of theories but inevitably we are left with the real answer: because that is Hashem’s will.

Shortly before Pesach, however, events unfolded to allow me to perhaps obtain a little more clarity in the matter.

I received an email with a question posed about the Seder: “Why do we eat maror, symbolic of slavery, after we have finished the whole story of the Jews being freed from Mitzrayim? Would it not make more sense for us to eat the maror in the middle of Magid when we are discussing the slavery itself?

Many answers are given to this question. Rav Kook suggested that the placement is perfect because it is essential that we remember the slavery after we were freed. It is infinitely easier to appreciate all the good we have when we are reminded of the bad we previously experienced. The answer very much resonated with me and I decided that I would share the thought at the Seder.

The very next night I received a gift from my sister. It was the Journeys 5 album by Abie Rotenberg. She knew that I was a big fan of his earlier recordings, the last one being almost 20 years ago, and so I really appreciated the gift.

I began to listen to the songs and a number of them certainly got my attention. However, the one that touched my heart the most was “The Ring.” It tells a story of a woman whose husband had passed away and how much she misses him. She recalls receiving a beautiful ring upon their engagement but by the time the sheva brachos was over, the ring had disappeared. To make a short song shorter, baruch Hashem the ring was found and all turned out well.

The song ends with the haunting words “If what was lost had not been found, I never would have known.” And just when I thought the song was over, Abie Rotenberg slows down the words and says them one more time. I listened to the song two more times and felt that those words were talking to me but I didn’t know why they had struck such a deep chord.

The Seder came and went, as did the days of Chol Hamoed. On Erev Yom Tov, I had the wonderful opportunity of spending time with some of my nephews. Among many other things, we shared divrei Torah and discussed our thoughts about the new album. I repeated Rav Kook’s thoughts and the feelings that the lyrics of “The Ring” stirred up inside.

And then it hit me: Why did Hashem bless us with four children who have special needs? To help us appreciate every accomplishment, no matter how small, of all of our children. To help us see life the way Hashem sees life—as a gift with endless rewards.

Every time Shaul sits down on the couch and reads “Curious George,” that is a beautiful moment.

Every time Yael wishes someone a wonderful day and puts a smile on their face, that is a wonderful snippet of time.

Every time Binyamin turns a phrase with a pun and allows his grandparents to see that he’s got a “head on his shoulders,” that is a sight to behold.

Every time Avigdor high-fives a friend and begins a conversation about “nothing,” that is a moment to step back and appreciate that there was a time he did not talk.

Every time Gad helps guide Shaul to say what is proper in order to calm him down (“first we have Yom Tov, then we make Havdala, and after we can go on the computer”), that is a moment not to be taken for granted.

Every time Psachya demonstrates his consideration of others and offers to help because it is “the right thing to do,” that is a time of pure nachas.

Would we appreciate all of these things as much if Hashem had not placed challenges in our way? I cannot say for sure.

What I do know is that our pekel has made it so much easier to know what we may have never known. Thank You, Hashem, for your infinite brachos!

By Aryeh Berlin

 

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