January 13, 2010
Where There Are Tears, There Is Hope
I recently attended a wedding of a dear friend. What made this wedding unlike most was that this was the bride’s second wedding. After living through a tumultuous first marriage, she was blessed to have a redo, a second chance, with a wonderfully sensitive man who compliments her greatly and has accepted her two children from her previous marriage with opened arms.
There is a Jewish saying that goes “Simcha Paretz Geder”, “Happiness can break all boundaries”. Life is a dichotomy filled with great challenges, deep sadness, loss, ultimate joy and celebration. Divorce has not been a foreign challenge for me, as I witnessed my own parents’ divorce after thirty-one years. The pain involved in a long term relationship ending is like no other. Everyone suffers when a marriage ends. The husband and wife are left to their own devices to begin their life again without real preparation, and the children become the ultimate sacrifice. Many tears are spilled and many cries are shed.
It is said of Moses as he was floating in the Reed river wrapped in a blanket inside a tar made basket, that he was saved by Princess Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh when she heard Moses’ sweet crying. A Jewish cry is like no other. A Jewish cry is the cry of conviction and of resilience. Maybe when the Torah speaks of the Jewish nation being referred to as “The Chosen People”, it is referring to us as being chosen to be the cry of hope in the midst of the storm. It is our job as a collective people to find that hope and pass it on to others. For the paradox of the human spirit and hope is in order to have it, one must give it away. And who has endured more dark moments, more trying times than the Jewish nation? But how does one attempt to not become a victim of his own tears?
There are times you are feeling as if it can’t get any worse, all is lost, and hope is but a muted whisper. It is said in the Torah that the Jews after being enslaved, tortured, and persecuted for two hundred and ten years in Egypt finally left with Moses at Midnight. The sages ask, why was it necessary for the Jewish people to leave at that hour? It almost feels as if they were sneaking out of town, maybe afraid of being persecuted again. But G-d created great miracles with the ten plagues, surely he was finally known to the world for his Divine powers. There would have been no need to “sneak” them out of Egypt. If anything, they should have left in the middle of the day as testimony to G-d’s ultimate sovereignty over “The Great” Pharaoh and the entire world.
As always, no detail in the Torah is an accident. This small detail is the mystery to the greatest lesson of human survival. The moment of midnight is the darkest point of the entire day cycle. The minute after midnight, however, is the beginning of light emerging. This light continues to get a bit brighter minute by minute until it is shining with ultimate brightness upon the moment of morning sunrise.
As in life, there are times we believe our challenges are at its darkest moments. It can’t possibly get any darker. It is at those moments we may not even feel G-d’s presence. We are left destitute without a map veiled in a grave of black somber tears. But at that very moment when life is at its darkest, G-d’s sweet breath whispers hope. And just when you think it is the darkest, a moment after that begins the emergence of light. Every moment thereafter brightens with greater and greater force.
This is the lesson of the Jews leaving at Midnight to teach us the human spirit can never stay in a state of darkness. This is not a natural place to STAY. It may be a natural place to endure, but ultimately light will seep into our challenges and propel us to new and greater heights as it did for my dear friend this past week.
When I met this friend five years ago, she was fraught with the greatest loss she had ever endured. The thought of her ability to ever get a do-over was the farthest thing in her mind. She was overcome with sadness and spent most days mourning for what could have been. And here, a few years later, with jubilation plastered on her face as she glowed with triumph and exhilaration I was reminded of the power of joy and the power of a Jewish woman’s tears. The power of music vibrating through her as she danced to the music of her new life taking flight, pulsing and bursting with the knowledge that yes, life can have it’s lows, but those lows can catapult us to the depths of elation we never thought possible because ultimately there is always hope.
My friend never did allow herself to become a victim to her pain. She is a woman with great dignity always trusting her experience would give her strength, and that it did. Her indestructible grace has always been a source of great inspiration to me. May we all be blessed to learn from our challenges as she did and for those of you enduring difficult trials today, may you be comforted in knowing, midnight is but a minute away from the bright morning.
*This essay is dedicated to the Chosson and Kallah and to my new friend Rebbetzin Feige Twersky. To view her inspiring essays go to: http://www.aish.com/f/rf/