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No ordinary problems

סיון רהב מאיר וסבתא רחל

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

It has been one year since my grandmother’s passing, Savta Rachel Keshet. During these difficult days — when so many precious young men and women have been lost — it might seem a bit odd to make a big deal out of the passing of a grandmother who, after all, lived to the age of 88.

So first of all, we can derive strength from my grandmother’s generation as a whole. In her childhood, she learned to cope with terrorist attacks when her family helped to establish the community of Givat Ada, before there was a state. From her we heard stories about the kidnap of children and the murder of families that took place back in those days too.

Yet beyond memories of those who continued to build despite the presence of cruel enemies and the constant threat of war (which applies to everyone living in the land of Israel over the last century at least), there is something else to keep in mind in recalling our loved ones and participating in other memorial events. Life must go on, and so we need to make room for our own private sorrow and pain, and for addressing all kinds of everyday problems and challenges that have nothing to do with the war.

Rabbi Lior Engelman encourages us never to regard someone else’s pain or disappointment — much less our own — as ordinary.

The rabbi asks two questions for us to consider at this time:

“Today, who has a place in their heart for someone injured in a traffic accident, for a family sitting Shiva for a mother who passed away at a ripe old age, or for someone whose scheduled surgery was already delayed three times because all the operating rooms were full?

Who has the strength for couples with ordinary marital problems or, in general, with all the little problems of daily living?”

And the rabbi answers: “But what can we do, our problems do not take wars into account and sometimes war becomes a breeding ground for our problems.

So let us strengthen all the mourners over ‘ordinary’ death, because there is nothing ordinary about anyone’s passing. And let’s embrace all those who are not evacuees and who are not putting on uniforms to fight, but still must cope with the trials of everyday life. Everyone needs a hug, even those with ‘ordinary’ problems.


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