A Deaf Mother’s “Thank You”

A Deaf Mother’s “Thank You”

20 years ago, I told Shoshana: “I could never become religious…I’m not observant at all and nobody in my family is and none of my friends are. It would be just too big a shock if I became religious for everyone, just too surreal. I just couldn’t do it…”

Shoshana answered me, “Believe me, if I became religious, you could too. Everyone was shocked and I did it anyway!”

This was one of the last conversations I had with Shoshana when we were classmates and buddies 20 years ago at the beginners program at Neve Yerushalayim.

But 19 years ago Shoshana got married and moved to Moshav Matityahu, and since then we’ve totally lost touch. So I was happy to see her name on the cover of Family First magazine this week along with the surprising title “After 24 years Shoshana Wege can finally hear her children.”

It turns out that after she left Neve, Shoshana went from being hard of hearing to nearly deaf until she received a successful cochlear implant a year ago this month.

The article “Sound Waves” by Rhona Lewis recounts Shoshana’s hardships raising 4 children as a deaf mother, having to run from room to room to make sure her children were OK instead of being able to depend on her sense of hearing to tell her if something was wrong. Or having to rely on her husband to wake her up in the middle of the night if her newborn baby was crying.

Looking back, Shoshana says that despite the hardships and social isolation, “I’m glad I was deaf…I probably wouldn’t say that if I couldn’t hear now…[But] I always davened to Hashem for help in this area and now I hear with the help of plastic and metal. The miracle of my cochlear implant has made me see Hashem so clearly. Every morning when I put on my speech processor behind my ear and switch on to the world of sound, I appreciate anew the miracle of sound. In fact, because of my deafness, I appreciate all of my faculties and limbs much more.”

While I loved this quotation and thought it was really beautiful, there’s nothing surprising about it. If people have backaches or toothaches or headaches and they go away, then they will almost certainly enjoy a newfound appreciation for life without pain and everything they can enjoy now that they couldn’t enjoy before.

What I found more surprising was this other short anecdote from the article:

“‘Look at me when I’m talking to you, Mommy!’ Shoshana’s daughter said, frustrated, as Shoshana was washing dishes. Since Shoshana lip-read a lot when her children spoke to her, they had been used to her undivided attention. ‘Now that I was able to do the dishes and listen to my kids as the same time, they complained.”…

Even within Shoshana’s difficult nisayon, the undeniable challenge of being a deaf mother, there was at least one blessing for Shoshana and her children. Since she had to lip read to communicate with them, she was 100% focused on them and present with them during their conversations.

We have a close family friend who is deaf, and I know how true this is. I have often noticed that she “hears” people better than anyone else I know, because she concentrates on the people she is speaking with and what they are saying with such unusual focus and intensity.

I am writing about this because yesterday I posted an article about Rabbi Rafoel Shmuelevitz and his unprecedented recovery from ALS (which, by the way, turned viral and has been read over 1800 times in the past 24 hours). A friend who read the article challenged me, “It’s great that there was a miracle, Chana Jenny. But why did Hashem have to make him sick in the first place? Was Hashem bad, kivyachol, and then He turned good? That’s what bothers me about all these ‘miracle stories’…”

This kind of question is out of my league. I’m not learned enough or smart enough to provide it with a decent answer. But reading Shoshana’s story this morning, I think, did provide me with a sliver of an answer for my friend.

This story explains how Hashem is always good, while people are suffering and not only after their suffering is over, IY”H. The key to seeing that G-d is always good, perhaps, is managing to see Hashem’s kindness not only after the long-awaited miracle takes place, but also when you are in the thick of the nisayon as well.

There is always something for which we can be grateful.

Related posts:

The Incredible Ear
The Charedi Playground
Recovering from Tragedy (12-Minute Mommy Peptalk)

8 comments

  1. Rachael

    Thanks for posting this Chana Jenny! We activate my son’s cochlear implant next week, and we are very very grateful for this technology and the ability to hear. At the same time, it has been hard to accept the fact that he lost his hearing in the first place, and to see Hashem’s kindness…Your article appeared right on time 🙂

  2. Thanks, Chana Jenny.
    Mazel tov, Shoshana!

  3. Yair Spolter

    “A friend who read the article challenged me, “It’s great that there was a miracle, Chana Jenny. But why did Hashem have to make him sick in the first place? Was Hashem bad, kivyachol, and then He turned good? That’s what bothers me about all these ‘miracle stories’…”
    This kind of question is out of my league.”

    Allow me to provide you with the answer.
    This is the simple truth that every Jew needs to know.

    Everything that Hashem does is purely good.
    Just like a child does not always appreciate that that what a parent does for him is good, we cannot always understand the goodness in our live’s circumstances. When I limit, scold, or punish my child, he is sure that I am mean or evil. He questions my judgement, thinks that I am unfair and do not care about him. Nevertheless, I – the parent – know that it is for the child’s own good.

    When Hashem brings suffering and pain into someone’s life, it is for a purpose. It is for the person’s good. In truth, the person should be jumping for joy, singing praise, and thanking Hashem for the great gift he has received. But we are human. We don’t like pain. We don’t like suffering. And we are not expected to react with the super-human maturity of seeing the greater good (although great tzaddikim do). When we feel pain, we cry.

    When life is going well, however, we are able to appreciate the good that Hashem is bestowing upon us and we are meant to react accordingly. We express our appreciation for this good by thanking Hashem and singing His praises.

    Why did Hashem have to make him sick in the first place?
    Because that is what he needed. (For his own sake, or for the sake of the Jewish people.) It was the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

    But we don’t celebrate getting sick. We react as human beings.

    When Hashem sends a cure to an illness, however, it is a great cause for celebration. We can feel the good, and we express that feeling. (And many times in hind-sight we can appreciate the suffering we went through as well.)

    One more step – why a miracle?

    A miracle shows that a special kindness was done. Something happened that was out of the ordinary – someone had a special zechus (merit) or special tefillos were said. In return, Hashem does something ‘out of the ordinary’ and brings the salvation in a super-natural way.

    I’m sorry that this comment was so long and I hope that what I wrote is clear. As I said, this is fundamental knowledge that every Jew must have – it should not be out of our league.

    • Devorah S.

      thank you very much for your clear answer. I appreciate that this was not left as an open-ended question.

      May you merit to always enlighten our eyes with Torah thoughts!

  4. Well said, thanks!

  5. when we ask Hashem for good, we specify a good that is seen and revealed. in other words, a good that is hidden, we don’t want. we can’t appreciate a hidden good. we’re like babies. we want Hashem’s brochos and goodness to be super obvious and super revealed. everything Hashem does is good. However, we’re not on such a refined level that we can see it everywhere. So Hashem, please grant all the Yidden a good which we can all see and appreciate with our material eyes.

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