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Simchah Imperfect

Tamar Hadar

Some simchahs are a mixture of overwhelming joy and excruciating pain. Four pairs of women share their stories of simchahs that blended elation and anguish

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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My Sari, Elchanan’s mother, said to me, “We need you to be a happy bubby at the upsheren, and im yirtzeh Hashem, you’ll yet come to cut Elchanan’s hair. Please, Mommy, allow yourself to be happy.” And Dassy, Yossi’s mother, said to me, “I spoke to Sari. It’s okay. There’s room for the pain and there’s room for the happiness. Our hearts are big enough”

T

HE SIMCHAH: A Newborn Child

Orah’s Story:

My older sister Yael got married three years before me. But she was still davening for children when shortly after my wedding I found out I was expecting.

I tried to hide myself as much as possible during the pregnancy, so as not to hurt my sister. For months, I didn’t get together with Yael — even though we’d had such a close relationship just a short while before. I simply wasn’t able to look her in the face.

My parents also had difficulty being happy with our good news. My mother would say to me all the time, “Daven for Yael, that she should also be zocheh.” I’d feel my heart tighten, as if I was guilty of snatching the birthright from my older sister; as if her pain would increase because of me. Every time I spoke to my mother on the phone, instead of asking how I was, we both remained silent as we thought about Yael’s great pain.

Just moments after giving birth to my firstborn Yehuda, I was crying to my mother. “How will you tell Yael?” My mother just wiped away tears. She had become a grandmother for the first time, but she was unable to feel the joy.

The morning after giving birth, I was exhausted and dazed, but I knew that I needed to call Yael and tell her that I’d given birth. Yael was silent for a few long minutes. My heart was racing, my blood pressure plummeting. Then Yael finally spoke: “I don’t believe it! I had no idea you were even expecting! Wow. I'm shocked. Mazel tov, Orah. I’m so happy for you.”

My sister visited me in the hospital and brought me a lovely and expensive gift. She picked up my son and kissed him, and I suddenly felt so liberated. Why did I carry this secret for so long? How did I not remember how special my sister is? Once I knew Yael was happy for me, I felt like I was finally “allowed” to be happy with this delightful baby, and the one who followed him, while Yael’s house remained empty.

Yael’s Story:

The truth? You’re taking me back to a difficult time. My husband and I waited eight very painful years for our first and miraculous child. But those years weren’t only difficult. The suffering opened chambers in our hearts we didn’t know were there. Our marriage became much stronger, and our anguish uncovered new depths within us.

 

My husband and I didn’t share all of this with our relatives, even the close ones. Instead, I joined support groups for the childless. I even had one such support group in my house. I didn’t tell any relatives how much we were struggling — why should I cause them pain and distress, and why should I bring up this painful topic if soon, very soon, we’d have our yeshuah, im yirtzeh Hashem?

On the outside, we conducted normal conversations about the price of potatoes and where it’s worth investing. Today I understand that we were living in a sort of closed bubble that was so tightly sealed that we didn’t realize our families had a significant share in our pain and sorrow, and that they could also be partners in our emotional and spiritual achievements.

That bubble burst one morning when Orah called to tell me she’d given birth to a baby boy. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 567)

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