Turning Sorrow Into Simcha|
By Malky Levitansky
Chaim stood near the window, watching as the rain beat relentlessly against the pane. His four younger brothers had long ago fallen asleep, but no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't drift off.
Chaim turned to look at 5-year-old Yossi, who was curled beneath a thin blanket, his only protection against the cold Yerushalayim night. Yossi had been so happy today, Chaim thought. He had come home from cheder bursting with excitement over an upcoming Purim party. He had lots of ideas for costumes. First he wanted to be Mordechai. But then he changed his mind and said he wanted to be a policeman. Then he changed his mind again and insisted on being a pilot.
Then he told Imma, "This year I want a costume from the store like all the other kids. A fancy one, with a hat and everything. Okay, Imma?"
Without waiting for an answer, Yossi had run outside to play. Imma had turned back to the stove to continue making supper, but not before Chaim detected the tears in her eyes.
Didn't Yossi realize that things weren't the same anymore? Chaim wondered, turning his attention back to the rain. Didn't he know that now that Abba had cancer that Mommy didn't have money for things like store-bought costumes? She hadn't bought them anything new in months -- not even books or tapes -- and last week she had "forgotten" to buy them Shabbos treats.
When will Abba come home? Chaim thought, tears of his own now forming in his eyes. When will he get better? Will things ever go back to the way they were?
Chaim watched the rain for a while longer and then climbed back into bed. Raindrops look so much like tears, he thought to himself as his eyes began to close. I wonder if that means Hashem is crying, too.
Down the hall, someone else was wiping away tears. Dena, Chaim's mother, had just gotten the news: Yitzchok's only hope now was a bone marrow transplant. If they didn't find a suitable donor soon, her husband would likely die in a matter of months.
Dena was overcome with grief. I can hardly manage as it is, she thought to herself. I barely have money for groceries, and there are all those doctor bills. And then there's Yitzchok. It's so hard to go the hospital every day and just watch him waste away. It's more than I can bear.
And, on top of everything else, now Yossi wants a store- bought Purim costume. But doesn't he understand? Doesn't he! Dena stopped herself -- of course he doesn't understand. But how can I buy him a Purim costume? And how am I going to afford mishloach monos and a seuda? How will I make Purim joyous for my children?
Dena lay in the darkness, her head spinning. After a few minutes she reached over to the nightstand and groped for her Tehillim. Her fingers caressed its soft, leather cover and she began to recite the words that had become so familiar to her over the last several months.
Lightning lit up the night sky, and Dena prayed.
Several blocks away a group of rabbonim was listening intently as Dovid Klein described the situation:
"The father was diagnosed with leukemia several months ago. He's been to all the top doctors, but the situation is very bleak. He and his wife have five children. She is doing her best to care for her family, but she is under tremendous stress and has no family members to help her.
"As neighbors, my wife and I try to help whenever we can, but there is so much we can't do. Several of the children need new shoes, and they always seem hungry. My wife gives them a snack whenever they come over, but it isn't enough.
"Plus, all the doctor visits and treatments have left them thousands of dollars in debt. We've raised some money for them among the neighbors, but it didn't go very far. Please help them. They have nowhere to turn."
The rabbonim, members of Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tzedokoh, thanked Mr. Klein for bringing the situation to their attention and assured him they'd do everything they could to help.
After Mr. Klein left, Rabbi Shlomo Blau, head of Vaad HaRabbonim, addressed the group. "We have to help them. I know we already have 125 families on our list for the Matonos Le'evyonim program, but I just don't think we can say no."
Members of the group nodded their assent and began calculating how many thousands of shekels the family -- and dozens of others -- would receive this year as part of the organization's annual Matonos Le'evyonim program.
That night, the rain continued to flood the streets of Yerushalayim. But for Dena and Chaim -- and thousands of other needy families in Eretz Yisroel -- this Purim, the sun will break through the clouds and light up the darkness.
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