Shayna Goldberg


Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash

Today I fell apart.

As I sobbed in the kitchen, my ten-year-old daughter came to give me a hug. And then she said:

“Ema, it’s scary to see a parent cry. Parents are supposed to be strong. If they are crying, then you don’t feel safe. Something must be really wrong. You know what I mean?”

Yup, I know what she means. I don’t feel safe. And something is really wrong.

It’s a terrible feeling to not be able to be strong for my kids when they need me most. I’ve been trying so hard to hold it all together.

But sometimes I break. And then the tears flow freely.

Maybe it’s seeing pictures of the child hostages.
Maybe it’s thinking about their parents.
Maybe it’s knowing my non-combat soldier is headed South.
Maybe it’s thinking about all those soldiers headed to fight.
Maybe it’s reading the texts of the young married women I taught.
Maybe it’s thinking about the sacrifices they are all making.
Maybe it’s hearing the headlines.
Maybe it’s thinking about the people behind them.
Maybe it’s seeing the pain and sadness in people’s eyes.
Maybe it’s thinking about what each one is feeling.
Maybe it’s knowing how much hatred exists.
Maybe it’s thinking about how this will all unfold.
Maybe it’s reading Jewish history.
Maybe it’s thinking- What if it is our turn?
Maybe it’s hearing 80-year-old Israelis say this is worse than anything they remember.
Maybe it’s thinking about what that actually means.
Maybe it’s wondering if the world cares.
Maybe it’s thinking about how alone we are.

I know there are other women who sobbed.

Chana was one of them.

In I Samuel chapter 1, we read how she came to the Mishkan in Shiloh and cried her eyes out. For years she had been begging God for a child, but He did not respond with one.

In a beautiful article, R’ Shalom Carmy quotes R’ Soloveitchik who explained why Chana’s prayers were answered specifically that year and not previously. It was on that year’s visit that Elkana, her husband, had tried to comfort her saying, “I am better to you then ten sons.”:

“It was then that Chana knew how alone she was: even her loving husband did not understand her.  This insight hammers home the message: we can only pray properly when we know the difference between our communion with God and our discourse with human beings.”

When we feel truly alone, our, deepest, truest, most genuine prayers emerge. Even though we struggle to know what to say, maybe something authentic and raw will burst forth.

Our foremother Rachel also sobbed on her own, and she is still sobbing.

Buried all alone on the road between Beit Lechem and Efrat, Rachel, Jeremiah 31:14 tells us, weeps for her children and refuses to be consoled because they are gone.

Rachel knows pain. She knows heartbreak. She knows loss. She knows death. She knows what it means to cry for the suffering of her children.

Rachel’s been crying for thousands of years, and today is her yarzheit. The tears are still flowing.

But we are promised that a time will come when God will tell her “to restrain her voice from weeping and her eyes from tears; for there is reward for her accomplishment-and those children will return from the enemy’s land.”

“There is hope for your future-the word of God-and your children will return to their border.” (Jeremiah 31:15-16)

Let’s hope that time is now.

There are children that need to be returned from the enemy’s land and a nation that needs security in its borders.

We and she have sobbed enough.

About the Author
Shayna Goldberg (née Lerner) teaches Israeli and American post-high school students and serves as mashgicha ruchanit in the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women in Migdal Oz, an affiliate of Yeshivat Har Etzion. She is a yoetzet halacha, a contributing editor for Deracheha: and the author of the book: "What Do You Really Want? Trust and Fear in Decision Making at Life's Crossroads and in Everyday Living" (Maggid, 2021). Prior to making aliya in 2011, she worked as a yoetzet halacha for several New Jersey synagogues and taught at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck. She lives in Alon Shevut, Israel, with her husband, Judah, and their five children.
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