20 Av 5781 / Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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The Good Fight    

The Good Fight

It’s hard to imagine that fighting with any person can be good. There are times, however, no matter how hard a person tries to avoid it, that Hashem pushes him into the ring…


It’s hard to imagine that fighting with any person can be good. There are times, however, no matter how hard a person tries to avoid it, that Hashem pushes him into the ring. Sometimes it takes a fight to build a deeper bond and to discover gifts and resources we didn’t know we had. Sometimes it takes a fight to heal, destruction to build a better house, and chaos to get to order.


It was 40 minutes before Shabbat. Sammy had just opened her email to send a quick “Good Shabbos” to a friend. She was in a light-hearted mood, laughing about the lopsided challahs she had made. Her laughter stopped abruptly. She sat frozen in front of her computer.


Her dad, whom she had reconnected with a few years earlier, was uncharacteristically short and condemning. “Don’t be an ingrate,” the email said. “If you can’t deal with the way things are, there’s no point in this relationship continuing.”


The email was signed the usual way, with his automatic signature, “All the best, Gary.” Sammy had risked telling him how she felt about some things, including his automatic signature and why he had never signed the emails with “Dad.” This hurt her terribly.


Tears ran down Sammy’s face as she struggled to breathe. She slammed her computer shut, ripped her shirt like one in mourning, and fell on the floor sobbing. A survivor of the worst kinds of child abuse, she had not been self-destructive in years, but now every self-destructive instinct came back with a vengeance. She curled herself into a ball, using all her strength to control herself.


“I told you he would get rid of me!” she screamed in a voice that sounded like a toddler.


Sammy had weathered many storms with great strength, but whenever her abandonment issues were triggered, she completely fell apart. Her mother had disappeared with her when she was two-years-old and moved across the country with a wealthy boyfriend she met while Gary was at work. She obtained a fake birth certificate for Sammy, changing her name from Rachel to Samantha. Anytime Sammy had cried for her dad, she was smacked and told she was a liar and crazy.


Thirty years later Sammy discovered her true identity. Her mother, in a drunken rage, blurted the whole story out including the fact that her mother and Gary were both Jews.


That same day Sammy found Gary on Facebook. He embraced her immediately. They wrote each other every day, sometimes several times a day. She had such child-like joy just saying the word, “Dad.” She lit up whenever she talked about him.


Almost immediately her father sent her The Garden of Emuna and a bunch of the emuna CDs. She devoured the teachings. Having a caring father in her life and emuna, Sammy went from a depressed recluse to actually setting goals and moving forward. She learned all about how a Jew should live, began observing Shabbat, and moved near a synagogue where the rabbi’s wife taught her how to read Hebrew.


There were now only five minutes left until Sammy would no longer be able to light the Shabbat candles. Through her tears, she said, “G-d please help me… Please…I don’t want to be like this. I just want to do what you want. Please give me your free gift of emuna.”


Pulling herself off the floor, she splashed water on her face at the kitchen sink, lit her candles, said the blessing, closed her eyes and stood before them praying.


Later she walked to the Kotel, the Western Wall, rested her head on the cool stones, and poured her heart out to Hashem. Two things became very clear to her. One, Hashem would fix this. She just needed to trust. And second, she was not supposed to write her Dad, but was supposed to back away and give him time for whatever Hashem was doing inside of him.


The next two weeks were some of the hardest of her life. It took everything not to run after her father. She was afraid if she didn’t write him, she would never hear from him again.


Every night she read The Garden of Miracles and thanked Hashem for 20 minutes about the situation with her dad. Many times she ended up crying like a toddler again as all the pain of abandonment rushed in. “Hashem, thank you for showing me this place that needs Your healing. Please heal this little girl inside me. Thank You for everything that happened in my life. Thank You for Your purposes in me being kidnapped for even this was for the best. Thank You for the fight with my dad for surely this is also for the best.”


Two weeks later, an email from Gary arrived. “Rachel aka ‘Sammy’, my precious child, my heart tells me you are upset with me. I have searched myself very deeply. I am sorry for hurting you. You were right to say everything you said. I was wrong. Hashem has shown me that it hurt so much when you were taken from me, I have been holding myself back from really stepping in and embracing the gift of being your dad. I ask for your forgiveness and for a new, fresh beginning. From a very deep place, with all my heart, love Daddy.”



* * *


(based on a true story… names and some details changed to protect their identities)

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