It’s hot in Israel these days with temperatures rising as high as 40 degrees (or 104 Fahrhenheit). People are irritable; nerves are frayed. Kids are off school and parents have to contend with this – If you are working, you have to give up a substantial part of your pay cheque (if not all of it). Not only that, you are scrambling to find good and affordable childcare, or bringing your child(ren) with you to work and trying to work while simultaneously amusing said child(ren). If you are not working, you have to entertain numerous miniature versions of yourself during long and sometimes seemingly endless days. In short, it’s a difficult period with many of us counting down the days until September 1.
It’s also nearly ‘The Three Weeks’, a period of mourning culminating in Tisha B’Av where we mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple. Our rabbis teach us that one of the reasons for which the second Temple was destroyed was Sinat Chinam, or baseless hatred. They also teach that the Temple will be rebuilt as a result of Ahavat Chinam, or love without a reason.
Just this past week, there was a magnificent example of Ahavat Chinam: Eliana Cohen’s mom, Shani posted a heartbreaking tearjerker Youtube video a few short days ago accompanied by a GoFundMe type campaign on a platform called The Chesed Fund explaining that her daughter has SMA (Spinal muscular atrophy) type 2, a very rare genetic disease which means that Eliana will develop progressive muscle weakness and she will also not be able to stand or walk independently. She will further develop both breathing and eating problems. She will require spinal taps and sedation every three months and will likely not live past the age of twenty years old. Although there is an FDA approved miracle drug, which could quite literally save her daughter’s life, it costs the astronomical amount of $2,200,000. The Cohen’s insurance company refuses to pay for the medication even after an intense month-long court battle. The money needed to be collected in less than one week because Eliana turns two in a few days and the FDA has only approved the drug to be administered to children who are less than 2 years old.
In less than a week, the entire world wide web (or more, specifically 23,350 people) banded together to buy this fantastically expensive drug for Eliana.
These 23,350 acts of pure radiant glorious goodness and kindness are the epitome of all that is Ahavat Chinam. And it’s not about how much money you have or how cash flush you are- People gave all sorts of amounts, across a huge range, from as little as $5 to as much as $285,000.00, each in their own way contributing, showing a deep desire to step out of themselves, each displaying care and compassion to a complete stranger, each rising to answer the plea of a desperate mother, that her daughter should be able to live a long and healthy life and to do the things which so many of us take for granted. It is my prayer that G-d looks down on these acts of magnificent kindness and that we merit to see the Temple rebuilt speedily in our days.