Following is an excerpt from Rabbi Yoel Schwartz's recently
published book, "Special Child - Special Parent: The Special
Child in Jewish Sources". The excerpt contains a continuation
of a series of questions posed by a concerned parent.
You Deserve It!
Q. Nonetheless, why me?
A. Because you deserve it. Yes, because you are so kind and
compassionate, Hashem considered you capable of raising a
special child. In His infinite mercy, He places special
children in warm and loving homes where they will receive the
best possible care. Yours is such a home.
Q. But it's so hard. Speech therapy, physical therapy,
medical attention, constant care. It's a twenty-four hour
job. I'm breaking. How can I cope?
A. "Hashem tests the righteous" (Tehillim 11:5). Just
as a potter demonstrates the strength of his vessels by
tapping the stronger ones, and not those which will break, so
Hashem tests those people capable of withstanding
difficulties - those who will be a source of inspiration for
others. (See Bereishis Rabbah, 23:1.)
"Nasata leyire'echa ness lehisnoses - You have given a
banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed"
(Tehillim 60:6). Tests are the banners Hashem uses to
display the high levels of "those who fear [Him]." (The
Hebrew word for test is nisayon, a word phonetically
related to ness - banner.) By testing such people, He
is proclaiming: These are the finest examples of mankind.
Q. After a particularly grueling day, I lie in bed and
wonder why people suffer. Yet moments later, I feel guilty.
Are such thoughts wrong?
A. "Why do people suffer?" is not a new question. It is as
ancient as man himself, and has been asked in every place and
age. The entire book of Iyov is devoted to this
question. But the answer which it provides, "Where were you
when I founded the world? Say if you grasp understanding,"
(Iyov 38:4) actually seems like a non-answer, while
Iyov's final conclusion, "I spoke, but I do not understand;
the things are hidden from me, and I do not know" (ibid.
42:3) seems to suggest that there is no solution. While
indeed there is no apparent solution to Iyov's question, this
is becasue there are no human answers to Divine questions,
and not because such a solution does not exist.
"And this is the way it should be. One should have
difficulty undersanding Hashem, Blessed is He... It is
inevitable that we be puzzled by Him, for if His conduct
followed our rules of logic, we could assume that His mind is
like ours" (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Likutei Moharan
Tinyana, stanza 62).
"If even the simplest blade of grass is beyond our
comprehension... how can we seek to understand [Hashem's
control of the world]?" (the Admor of Piastchene, Esh
Kodesh, p. 139).
"Don't make the mistake of imagining that His knowledge is
like ours, or His intent... like ours. When one realizes
this, it is easier to accept that which happens..." (Rambam,
Moreh Nevuchim, part 3, ch. 23).
Despite our inability to understand Hashem's ways, Chazal
still seek to bring them as close as possible to our
perception, offering us a faint shadow of an explanation.
Commenting on the verse, "The judgments of Hashem are true,
together they are just," (Tehillim 19:10), the Chofetz
Chayim explains: "Certain souls are required to return to his
world in order to atone for past misdeeds... When such a soul
realizes that it must be reincarnated, it pleads to return
under conditions which will enable it to rectify its sins.
One who was wealty, for example, begs to return as a pauper,
so that he won't be faced with the very same obstacles which
caused him to stumble in his past life. The Heavenly
Prosecutor argues that if such a person doesn't return as
wealthy, he won't be able to correct earlier sins. It is only
after much pleading that his request to be born poor is
finally granted. Thus, it is quite possible that the very
person who complains about his bitter lot actually begged the
Heavenly Court to place him in such a situation."
Q. Yet sometimes the feeling that I must prove myself, and
pass all those tests with flying colors, overwhelms me. What
advice can you give me?
A. The ultimate test is knowing how to relate to tests - how
to put them into a proper perspective and raise them to a
loftier level. By viewing a test and its accompanying
hardships as a mission and a challenge, life becomes not a
series of tests to be passed, but a golden opportunity for
growth. "Braving such tests is the Torah challenge to parents
of special children. If the challenge is met with inspiration
and bitachon, then the parents and the family have
carried out a unique and special mission entrusted to them by
Hashem. The education of our children is not merely a
mitzvah or a task imposed from Above. It is a mission
of Hashem... a holy charge, a sacred duty" (from the
Noveminsker Rebbe's address to a P'TACH convention).