A woman, a religious cousin from Bnei Barak, who goes through life and does what she believes in. If Hashem can grant her the gift of children, then she will continue to give birth. A picture of both of us at another cousin’s wedding.
Genesis 4: 25-26
Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, meaning, “God has provided me with another offspring in place of Abel,” for Cain had killed him.
And to Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. It was then that men began to invoke the LORD by name.
What does one say to someone else when becoming pregnant is an issue for you and you are tired of replying? I think that I have heard it all,: “Get over it. You can always adopt.”, “You will forget the pain once you adopt.” “You didn’t fail. Your body did. It’s not your fault.” “Pray harder to Hashem. Perhaps, He will now listen to your prayers.” “Maybe you aren’t trying hard enough.” “Are you eating, sleeping, exercising, thinking, davening, working, (you name it) right?” “I heard that there are miracle doctors out there. Go and search them out.”” You are being punished. Pray harder and give tzedakah.” “You are being too (fill in the blank..anxious, preoccupied, nervous, ..) Just relax and Gd will send you a child.” No good deed goes unpunished.” They all meant well or did they? Were they reflecting their own concerns and anxieties about future childbearing for themselves and their future children? Perhaps, I was another fly on the wall for them to unload upon.
A picture of our family taken, with my camera, last Thanksgiving 2019, pre-Covid.
After several miscarriages, one wonders what’s to be? Do you give up? Does one adopt and hope for the best? They also say that after one adopts, that something might relax inside one’s (rehem/ uterus), open up, and the births begin. Who’s to say?
Years ticked off, years ticked by. I was growing older and older. I was nearing forty. I felt like Sarah, Abraham’s wife. What did the future hold?
Doctor after doctor. Treatment after treatment, each with a promise that things might change, things might open up. A discovery, a chance, a new hope.
Rabbis were consulted. Trips to the mikvahot. Prayers were recited in the hopes of storming the Heavens. Meditations and incantations chanted. Candles lit. Yoga and other stress relievers were suggested and tried.
I never felt like I was trying hard enough to shake the Heavens and wake Gd up. Gd had to listen to my pleas! The clock was ticking. The biological gates were closing. What would stir Gd’s mercy (rahamim/rehem) and compassion and grant my supplications and pleas?
And Gd listened to her pleas.
Samuel 1: Chapter 1: verses 10-20
In her wretchedness, she prayed to the LORD, weeping all the while.
And she made this vow: “O LORD of Hosts, if You will look upon the suffering of Your maidservant and will remember me and not forget Your maidservant, and if You will grant Your maidservant a male child, I will dedicate him to the LORD for all the days of his life; and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she kept on praying before the LORD, Eli watched her mouth.
Now Hannah was praying in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice could not be heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.
Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Sober up!”
And Hannah replied, “Oh no, my lord! I am a very unhappy woman. I have drunk no wine or other strong drink, but I have been pouring out my heart to the LORD.
Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; I have only been speaking all this time out of my great anguish and distress.”
“Then go in peace,” said Eli, “and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”
She answered, “You are most kind to your handmaid.” So the woman left, and she ate, and was no longer downcast.
Early next morning they bowed low before the LORD, and they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah and the LORD remembered her.
Hannah conceived, and at the turn of the year bore a son. She named him Samuel, meaning, “I asked the LORD for him.”
And that sounded very similar to my own story. I asked the Lord for my Sam. And he was granted, later on in years, like with Hannah, but granted, nevertheless.
Samuel 1: Chapter 1: 26-28
She said, “Please, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you and prayed to the LORD.
It was this boy I prayed for; and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him.
I, in turn, hereby lend him to the LORD. For as long as he lives he is lent to the LORD.” And they bowed low there before the LORD.
I had brought Sam to the mikvah to dunk with me and to pray prayers of Thanksgiving when I could affirm that Sam was healthy enough to dunk. Also finding out that I was pregnant with Shira.
Samuel 1 Chapter 2- 1-3
And Hannah prayed: My heart exults in the LORD; I have triumphed through the LORD. I gloat over my enemies; I rejoice in Your deliverance.
There is no holy one like the LORD, Truly, there is none beside You; There is no rock like our God.
Talk no more with lofty pride, Let no arrogance cross your lips! For the LORD is an all-knowing God; By Him actions are measured.
I had been measuring the depth of the mikvah, not wanting to allow Sam to swallow too much water. I had been measuring my time, carefully, hoping beyond hope that I would have a successful birth with Shira. Although there were birth difficulties, Shira was born healthy.
Samuel 1- Chapter 2: 20-21
Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD grant you offspring by this woman in place of the loan she made to the LORD.” Then they would return home.
For the LORD took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Young Samuel meanwhile grew up in the service of the LORD.
Above, is a picture of our family in recent years. A family portrait was taken three years ago.
Sam and Ivan, Shira’s intendant, (our newest “hasan”) at our cousin’s wedding last year pre-Covid.
Do I count my blessings of “three” sons and two daughters to date? Yes and no. I am not inviting the evil eye to come to visit but I see several parallels in my life that line up along with those of Hannah, ( also a family heroine and family namesake.). So yes, I am counting my blessings. (phew, phew)
I thank Gd for not forsaking his servant and remembering me when I called out His name.
“I don’t need the bulls you sacrifice; I don’t need the blood of goats. What I want instead is your true thanks to God; I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High. Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” (Psalm 50:13-15)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
“The LORD is my strength, and my song; He has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14.
I stand with those who have struggled with fertility issues. I know what it feels like to not have or not to fulfill one’s purpose in life, to gift the world one’s offspring and progeny. My Seth (gift and provision) has been revealed and shared with Gd’s world in Gd’s time. B”H.
Parashat B’reisheet Covid 2020.
Rabbi Claire and her teddy bears
In memory of my mother, Marvell D. Ginsburg, z”l, who supported me through my struggles with infertility and through the successful births of our children