Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi Remembers her Son: Yosef Chai z”l
It’s been more than ten years since my friend and teacher, Rabbanit Yemima, lost her baby son Yosef Chai z”l after he was born with a serious heart defect (here’s an article I wrote back then about Yosef Chai and his death). Here are some thoughts which Rabbanit Yemima shared with Ami Magazine (edited by Shiffy Friedman) which I think can provide inspiration for pulling through all of life’s challenges:
“When a woman looks at herself and the situations Hashem has sent her way, she may want to sigh. She may think, ‘This is not what I signed up for!’ But if the situation came her way, there is no greater sign that this is good for her…
“At this time of year, we commemorate the yahrzeit of our dear son, Yosef Chai, a”h. I used to think often, ‘Who on earth knows how much we did for this child?‘ The only testimony left is his tiny gravestone, which reads, ‘Yosef Chai ben Yemima, who was purified by suffering.” I too was purified by that suffering. For months, I didn’t close my eyes. Nursing a child who barely gets oxygen, checking his breathing every second—who will remember all that devotion, I wondered? I wanted a medal for that!
“Those were my thoughts, until I came across a stunning explanation that brought me great peace.
“Hashem tells our mother, Sara, ‘Sarai, I am changing our name. Your yud will be replaced by a hei.’
“’What?’ she objects. ‘That yud I earned in wrinkles. Those are the ten trials I experienced, all with grace. Who will remember how I was dragged into Grar or what I endured when I was in the hands of Pharaoh? Who will remember that I was barren for decades? I am not ready to let go of the yud I suffered for!’
“Hashem answers, ‘Don’t worry, my dear daughter. Your supernatural ability to withstand trials will be passed on to a pale, nervous yeshiva student…that person is Yehoshua bin Nun…I’ll transmit the testimony of your strength, your yud, to him. Thus it says, ‘And Moses called Hoshea, Yehoshua bin Nun.’
“Dear Jewish women, not one of your struggles is in vain.
“Every single time you rise to the challenge and accept Hashem’s shlichut (mission) with grace, you are transmitting the greatest gift to your descendants and to yourself as well.”