Weekly Insights with Chaya Parkoff

Dear Ladies

I have been struggling to write this email. Do I write about this week’s Parsha – and talk about the garments that the Kohanim (High Priests) wore in the Holy Temple, and the meaning and lessons we can derive from those garments? Or do I write about the upcoming holiday of Purim or the special Torah portion we read the Shabbat before Purim about Amalek? While there is so much I could say about each of those topics, I ultimately chose to write about an experience I had this past Shabbat.

My friend had just had a baby girl last week! While a baby boy is named at his bris, a baby girl is formally named in shul on a day when the Torah is read, and a special Misheberach is said that begins with a blessing for good health for the mother and then continues with giving the baby her name followed by a prayer that she grow to be a wise and understanding Jewish woman of goodness and greatness.

What really struck me was what happened right before the Rabbi recited the misheberach.

The Rabbi said that while this was a truly joyous occasion, welcoming another Jewish daughter to the Jewish People, this can also be a painful time for those who have been struggling to have children (either couples who have been having trouble conceiving, or for those who are not married yet and wonder if they will ever have children), and we must be sensitive to this. He then said a beautiful prayer for those who are struggling to have children. (They also do this prayer before all of the children in the congregation go under the giant tallit on Simchat Torah).

I was really moved by this gesture of sensitivity and when I was talking to my husband about it at lunch I said that this is truly a demonstration of one of the essence of Judaisim – sensitivity. I have a magnet on my fridge that says “Before you speak, think: How would I feel if someone said this about me?”  and one that says “Be kind: Everyone you meet has a challenge you know nothing about.”

As a therapist in private practice (I always say I sit on both sides of the couch – or the screen these days!), I can tell you that everyone, and I mean everyone, has “stuff” that they are going through. Judaism teaches us to think beyond ourselves and to be sensitive to what others might be going through.

Yes, we should celebrate simchas (and my blessing is there should be many!) and at the same time, we should be aware that others might be suffering as well. Thinking beyond ourselves teaches us that we are part of something so much bigger – we are part of the Jewish People and even bigger than that, we are part of all of humanity.

Have a great week.
Love, Chaya