Esther Feinstein
Esther Feinstein

The Kindness of Chassidic Brothers


Going against the expected becomes the unexpected.

The doctors’ worry shook them to their core

A long road ahead, and it was a hard pill to swallow. By what right did this fate have to squeeze her so tight? She looked heavenward for answers, but it was too concealed in mother nature for her to see and understand.

Her son, her life, her soul was born with hardships; she as a mother had to bear witness to his difficulties. Each step seemed so hard, and each prominent milestone was ignored. Through hours of pacing, pleading, and begging G-d to work his magic, she felt at least she deserved that happy go-free American ending, but the dream and the happiness seemed so far away.

It happened one Friday night, my friend and her family sat down for a Shabbos meal. Then all of a sudden her two guests looked at her little son. As they stared, they announced that her child did not look like her husband, and clearly something must be wrong with him.

It then triggered her husband’s response, and he looked at their son and felt sad. “Why are you sad?” she asked him, hoping he would not share his real thoughts or the thoughts that clouded her own mind. 

“It looks like our son has something wrong with him. Why can’t he smile? Why can’t he crawl, or walk, or even interact with us at all?” Her spouse, usually very tight-lipped, felt he had a license to spew out all his worries on my friend–a plant that already was still soaked from the torrential downpour of hardship.

My friend gave into her soul’s whisperings and her husband’s worries, and then the doctor took over to be the champion of the hysterics. The doctors gave test after test: they too were confused. What was it? What was wrong? What is the answer?

A Chassidic brotherhood unleashed

Pacing, pleading, begging and the howling of the wind outstayed their welcome. My friend came to visit me, and gentle footsteps I knew I must take enveloped my usual quickened paced-feet. This approach had to be placed when dealing with her in the midst of her hardships and difficulty. 

Sipping over a cup of tea with no real answers to give my friend, oddly she was comforted, for now, and felt at peace. No answers sometimes meant nothing was truly wrong, and she held out hope because Hashem does control the waves. 

My friend needed a break and allowed herself to pop by my house more often than not. My boys took over and made circles on the floor for her little one to crawl. They kissed, held, hugged, and laughed with her little boy, and he gladly joined the song of a Chassidic loving brotherhood. 

Sometimes, in this brotherhood, it seemed that they were much older than their years. The scars and deep cuts from his baby psoriasis did not change the outcome of hugs and kisses, but, instead, a deep brotherhood connection between this little boy and his friends formed. 

The little toddler’s sadness and fussiness of not wanting to eat or do much changed instantly when placed within this circle of love. Each one of my sons really made it their business to sit with him, hold him, and teach him the littlest of things-just to build his confidence. My children’s efforts were not in vain, and a once very sad and withdrawn child blossomed into a shining giggling toddler. 

My boys understood that the little child needed to feel blessed, cherished, and loved: that is the recipe they tirelessly gave until this boy who could not move began to take little steps hugging onto each door, sofa, or cabinet piece. 

The mother held her breath even though she long gave up hope for her little son; something so amazing and G-dly seemed to be happening: a child who should not be able to was miraculously able to walk.

Months passed but his progress did not, so I invited them over again and my boys gladly helped him into their brotherhood.  A story, a nod, a tickle fight, or a hug, and finally this little child started making progress again.

 Each of my boys took such an interest in helping their little friend. It became  Choo-choo trains of fun, laughter, love, and a large protective circle slid along my floors for hours and hours. Suddenly as if this toddler always was a skilled walker, it happened, and the furniture, sofa, or cabinet once grasped, was let go and given up–this cherished little boy discovered his feet and hands to make himself move.

My friend was worried because after another few months the movement was still slow, and no progress was made. One of my older boys had enough of this disappointment and decided to make it his top priority. It was his mode of a drill sergeant, and the little shy boy followed each command.

 At first, the toddler’s little feet went slow and curved to each side, but as the boy looked at his commanding officer, he began to see the task as futile. Surprisingly, my son didn’t give up and pushed himself, like an adult, to give courage and strength to his little brave friend, and his little friend finally acquiesced to his drill sergeant’s command.

My friend again worried and wanted to know when he was going to start communicating with speech. Will it happen? Will he succeed? One day, I called my mother-in-law, and he looked at me and the boys and screamed, “Hello!” I’m sure with time and patience this little boy will finally turn the corner on his speech too. 

About the Author
Born in New York state into a family on Shlichus, Esther was formally trained in Chabad institutions in America and Canada as an educator and community leader with the lifelong goal of helping an under-served Jewish populace. She and her husband, along with their children, have been serving the local community, as well as the Northeast Wisconsin region, for over a decade, providing for any and all needs of everyone's personal journey with G-d.
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