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An idea to handle with care

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Four years ago today, Chani Weinroth passed away after a long battle with cancer. The manner in which she dealt with her disease, including her Torah commentary, was an inspiration to many.

In this week's Torah portion, at the end of a difficult struggle in the darkness of night with the angel, Yaakov is given a new name -- Yisrael. Many commentators write that an encounter with evil, or a struggle with the enemy, uplifts a person and grants him new and better inner qualities, improving his essential self. Difficulties serve to make us stronger and reveal hidden positive forces that lie within.

But Chani urged us to handle this idea with care, and wrote as follows: "It is important for me to emphasize that the 'patent' of finding what is good in the difficulties we face can only be practiced on ourselves by ourselves. If someone tries to teach me that my disease is a gift, I will get very angry with him. I am not saying that this idea is incorrect. Disease certainly brings a lot of truth to the sufferer, and yet there are things that we are permitted to tell ourselves but that others are forbidden to tell us. A woman can say, 'I am such a fatty,' but heaven forbid that her husband will validate this . . . When someone complains about suffering, he does not need us to teach him how much blessing there is in it. That is not our job. Instead, our job is to identify with him and to share in his pain, not to minimize it. Do not approach someone in pain and say 'A trial like this makes you stronger.' Be empathetic, inclusive, and offer help.

"Still, speaking personally, when something bad happens to us, it would be worthwhile to invest serious thought in finding the good in the difficulty we face. It would also be worthwhile to try and see, strictly among ourselves, how we can grow from the experience."

In her memory.


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