Five years ago, as Yom Kippur approached two thoughts were foremost on my mind:
1- Everything is in G-d’s hands.
2- G-d is good.
Those two beliefs left only one possible outcome in my mind.
I entered Yom Kippur deeply emotional, and prayed more sincerely than I ever remember praying till that day and since that day. Tears flowed freely as I begged. Throughout the day, whether in the hospital or at Shul, prayers were on my lips, some of my own writing. The Neila prayer, the last prayer of Yom Kippur, I was overcome with feeling. Daniel leading the shul in prayer and we sang the final words of the day, certain that our belief in a good outcome was a reality. As sure as the Kohen Gadol was when he would go home and have a festive meal with his family, for certainty of the good year that was surely sealed, we were that sure.
G-d is in charge + G-d is good could only mean one thing.
Mendel would be well and come home.
For the next 48 hours the outcome was as good as ours. The suit I had hanging in our closet for Mendel since Rosh Hashanah… he would wear it soon.
G-d is still in charge and G-d is still good…but in between those two realities, in spite of them and because of them, a chasm opened under me and I felt ripped into two. Million. Pieces.
I try straddling those two certainties but keeping my balance is hard.
Sometimes I can keep one foot on each side, I look to my right and G-d is good, I can see all the goodness he has given us and continues to. I look to my left and I look up at a G-d who is all capable and infinitely powerful and I feel anger, and betrayal, and I don’t understand.
Sometimes I slip and fall but manage to grab onto the ledge of the chasm with my bloody fingers and aching arms, that are tired of climbing back up. I hold on and cry for help. Sometimes I don’t know how I got back up over the edge or who helped me get there. But I’m there again, unable to reconcile that Hashem who is good, took him from us.
Sometimes I fall, my fingers miss the ledge as I’m falling. I am too tired, too ashamed, too angry to call for help. I don’t want help, I’m tired. And somehow as if He saw me slip and heard my silent tears, I am suspended in the abyss, not falling anymore, I look down into the darkness… Mendel can’t be there, he is too full of light. I look upwards and somehow the broken bits of my heart and soul find themselves back up on the ledge.
I long to feel like I did that Yom Kippur when we were so sure, so so very sure. I long to pray like I did that day, when I felt no doubt.
Mendel’s suit still hangs in the same place in my closet I hung it up that day. That day the abyss opened under my feet and my beliefs were ripped in half.
I know one day I will understand that there is in fact no schism, no disparity between the two sides, between the All Powerful and the Good.
Till then I will try and focus on the light, try to avoid slipping off the ledge. And if I do slip, as I most certainly will, I pray I will get back up.
As we enter Yom Kippur tonight, may Hashem seal us all for a year of good outcomes, a year of no perceived gap between G-d who is Good and G-d who Determines All. May this year be sweet and steady and on firm ground.
This is beautifully written. I love everything about it. God is great and he is on the thrown and he is in control. I’m so grateful that we can trust him to take that ledge away, that pain away… at least for a bit… and then, we just pray more and he shows up again. Taking it from us. I love you.