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.