13 Tishrei 5781 / Thursday, October 01, 2020 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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In Hashem's Hands    

In Hashem's Hands

For days after the accident, it seemed as if people got rooted to the spot, a place that was both horrible because of the accident and holy because of who died there…


One of the realizations of living life with emuna is understanding that life and death, like everything else, are in God's hands only. No exceptions.


Time and again we see that Hashem runs the world. Like the old saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh then tell him your plans.”


People who imagine that they are responsible for events beyond their control will be plagued by the tyranny of the “should haves”, the “could haves” and the “if onlys”.


A few weeks ago there was a terrible tragedy in our neighborhood; a six year old boy was hit by a bus and killed.


I found out when my daughter called me crying, she had missed the bus by seconds and was walking to a different bus stop when she began hearing ambulances. But it was too late, the boy was already dead.


My daughter wondered, “If I had made the bus would that have affected the timing? Would the boy have been safely across the street by then?”


But he had been safely across the street. His father, with his hand on his son's shoulder had guided him safely to the other side.


My daughter knew who the bus driver was. She told us he's a good man who drives normally and is patient with the passengers. Witnesses claimed he had not been speeding, he had done nothing wrong. So what happened?


The little boy had apparently dropped something as he approached the curb. He pulled himself from his father's grasp and turned back into the street to retrieve it. That's when the bus hit him.


It turns out he was my grandson's best friend. They sat next to each other in class.


The spot where the little boy died is close to the shopping center. For days after the accident, it seemed as if people got rooted to the spot, a place that was both horrible because of the accident and holy because of who died there, a little boy wearing kippa and tzisis, on his way to cheder. I could not stop thinking about the pain of his mother, his sisters and his grandparents. Imagining the father's trauma was more than I could bear. The bus driver's suffering is beyond anyone's imagination.


Since the death, I've noticed that people are more careful when crossing the street and that drivers are driving slower. In the mornings there is a crossing guard at that street. And these are good changes. I don't know how long they will last, forever I hope.


But even when people are being as careful and conscientious as humanly possible, God still runs the world.


When my baby died at eight months old I was wracked with guilt. I should have gotten a second opinion regarding his treatment, I shouldn't have listened to the doctor, I should have gotten a different doctor, I should have been more assertive.....I could have...why didn't I...if only...?


Finally my Rabbi told me that it is forbidden to think that way. That while we can learn from every experience, ultimately life and death are in the hands of Hashem.


As a therapist, I am used to hearing people express guilt feelings. Everyone who has lost anyone suffers from the gnawing thought that perhaps they could have done more, that they weren't diligent enough or that they missed the obvious. But even if there is some truth to that, it doesn't change the fact that God decides when it’s time for a soul to move on.


The morning I got up from sitting shiva for my son, I took a walk through the Old City of Jerusalem. As I was passing by the Arab market a little kid came flying off a building and landed a few feet in front of me. He laid there stunned as his mother ran down the stairs to pick him up off the cobblestones. He was dazed and bloody but obviously okay, he started moving and screaming with all his might. I looked up from where he fell and saw that there was no guard rail around their balcony. I was aghast at the blatant negligence. And yet, the child was spared.


Here was the 'proof” I needed from the Almighty. “It was not your fault” God told me, “I am the One who made heaven and earth.”


In other words, as the Creator of the Universe, He decides which world the soul needs to be in and for how long. As for why, that reminds me of another old saying: ”I wouldn't want  to worship a God that I understand.”



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