Chanukah always falls during the darkest time of the year when the days are shorter. That’s why it’s so inspiring to light ascending candles for eight nights to bring hope and illumination into our homes and into the world.
Sometimes a few simple words can create an enormous gateway for healing and transformation. Often, we can give those words to someone who is struggling, while other times we are the beneficiary of this hope. This is a true story I share in my debut memoir SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain. It’s from the chapter called The Boy Who Blessed the Rabbi and occurred at the height of my son’s serious illness with Rheumatic Fever, causing him to miss four months of school while he was heavily medicated and weakened. Unbeknownst to us, two family friends took the initiative to set up an appointment with a world-renowned Khabalistic healer. Naturally, we were open to trying anything to help our son recover. It gave me tremendous hope showing the power of reciprocal, generative hope.
Jonathan gave me a knowing look. The night before, when I was tucking him in to say goodnight, Jon had asked me what he should expect and what it would be like to meet the rabbi. I had answered that hundreds of people came from ALL over the world to meet with this rabbi to get a blessing. My sweet boy replied, “Who blesses the rabbi?” I told him that God blesses the rabbi. Jonathan felt that it wasn’t right for the rabbi to bless him without being able to give the rabbi a blessing in return.
I knew that’s what Jonathan wanted to do. The next day, at the end of our session, the rabbi looked at my husband, Jon, and me and asked if there was anything else we wanted to share. “Yes, rabbi,” I said. “There is one more thing. Jonathan would like to give YOU a blessing.”
The rabbi’s eyes opened a little wider and his entire countenance glowed as he gently motioned for Jonathan to come closer. Jonathan stood up slowly and placed his hands right in the middle of the rabbi’s black hat as both of them lowered their heads and closed their eyes. When Jonathan finished his blessing, the rabbi embraced him.
Later that night, I asked Jonathan if he felt good about the visit. He nodded his head and said earnestly, “It makes me feel good to have a blessing and know that people care about me.”
I stroked his blond curls and told him how much I loved him, “What did you say in your blessing to the rabbi, Jonathan?”
Jonathan looked up with his big blue eyes and said, “I’m sorry Mommy, I can’t tell you my blessing. It’s between me and God.”
I kissed him tenderly on the forehead and he went to sleep. That night, I contemplated how moving it was to witness Jonathan’s beautiful soul and generous nature. His desire to bless the rabbi illustrated the power that small acts of kindness can have to create a sense of agency, meaning, and purpose, even when someone is seriously ill. This swift, sacred encounter buoyed my spirits for many months to come until my son recovered fully.
Wishing you and your loved ones hope, kindness, and resilience during this holiday season.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.
P.S. Today Jonathan and Evelyn are parents to baby Charlotte with another one on the way.