Jewish Journal


December 28, 2010

So Resilient. So Fragile.


This past Shabbat, a dear friend rose at the third Shabbat meal to speak about her mother, whose fifth yahrzeit was that day. Her mother had been the sole member of her family to survive Auschwitz. She had also faced multiple illnesses and hospitalizations in her later years. Despite all this, as my friend related, her mother never complained. Not about Auschwitz, not about illness. And not only that, she would always interrupt her children if they ever began to say something negative about anyone else. “Do not judge anyone until you find yourself in their place”, she would say, citing the Mishnah in Pirkai Avot.  My friend’s mother was a tzadeket, a righteous woman.

There was only one person whom she judged, whom she was angry at, and whom she blamed. This was God. She could not forgive Him. Could not abide Him. She could not believe in Him. She was a tzadeket who had no faith.

Sitting next to me was the faithless tzadeket’s husband, observing the yahrzeit of his wife. Also a survivor. A man who loves yiddishkeit with all his might. A man who is never happier than when he is in shul. And oh how happy he is in shul. 

My friend concluding her remarks with a prayer that God embrace her mother’s soul. That He understand.

Faith in God. So fragile. So resilient. So fragile.

Who can understand? Who can judge?

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