On the Bus to the Shiva: Reflections on a Tragic Adar

On the Bus to the Shiva: Reflections on a Tragic Adar

Am I the only person who feels this week like the world is totally falling apart?

The bestial Itamar massacre of a holy Jewish mother, father and their 3 small children, the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster that have killed thousands and put the lives of 10s of 1000s more people in danger, and in my community, also, the heart wrenching death of Chagit bat Leah, my neighbor and dear friend whose death this past Thursday left behind a broken husband and 5 all-too-young orphans.

This past Monday, I travelled to Ashdod to pay a shiva call to Chagit’s family. I had packed a pile of things to read for the hour-long bus ride. But in the end, I just spent the whole ride looking all about at the world around me. I looked at the fragrant, life-giving, crayola green fields. I looked at the watercolor pink and mango sunset. I looked at the bright sapphire blue eyes and tongue-poked-out smile of my incredibly adorable 8-month-old Tsofia.

That bus ride was far from the first time I’ve noticed how beautiful the world is. But on that bus ride it really sunk in for the first time, I think, what a tremendous kindness God did when he designed the world to be so remarkably beautiful. God could have just made the world in black and white, or just created everything in a huge, ugly, amoebic blob. But looking at that sunset over the fields, I realized that God is the greatest artist in existence and the world is His masterpiece.

What an unfathomably gorgeous world God gave us. Tulips. Children. The Alps. Squirrels. The Pacific. Strawberries. Rubies. Goldfish. The moon on a starry night.

And surrounded by all the beauty of this world, I prepared myself to comfort Chagit’s bereft husband, Eitan, and her now motherless children. And I felt deep in my gut that the same God who created the intricate, exquisite beauty of that field and sunset and beloved baby also brought about all of the events of this phenomenally tragic week.

And while knowledge of God’s providence doesn’t take away the tragedies, that knowledge does bring me comfort. It reminds me that even when we feel so abandoned and scared and broken, just like the endangered Jews in the Purim story, the truth is that just like our great-great-great grandparents in Persia, we too are never alone.


  1. Rea Bochner

    You literally took my thoughts and put them on “paper”. I, too, have been overwhelmed by world events this week, but the wisdom of a friend put it all in perspective for me. “It’s all so big,” I said. “Yeah,” she replied. “And it’s all so beautiful”.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Shoshanna

    Beautiful post, that sums up all of my feelings. These are hard times and I admire your positivity and emuna. May it inspire all of us to use this month of Adar as an opportunity for growth.

    PS. This is the first time I comment, but I stop by your blog almost daily. It is very empowering!

  3. thank you dear Chana, (yes you are dear to me!!)I feel myself so depressed this week, like all the jewish mothers all over the world we are terrified by what happened, but thanks to you, I feel less lonely….you are right we should never stop even in the darkest times to thank Hashem and to see His Hand everywhere…especially the week of Pourim;

  4. My heart has been in that place of both heaviness and the intense need to keep life going on as normal. it’s horrible conflicting.

  5. This reminds me of how I have felt about Shabbat during particularly hard times.With all the tragedy and loss in this world, Hashem gives us Shabbat built-in every week, so that no matter what is happening, even if we are in aveilut (like shiva) we have to put it aside somewhat,and recognize Hashem as the Creator and the One Who gives us all our gifts.

  6. בס”ד
    ג’ני המקסימה, המנחמת! אין לך מושג איך צבעת לנו את הלב הבוקר, לאחר שהצער צבט את ליבנו כל השבוע! המאמר שלך הזכיר לי את התמונות הנוראות של מחנה השמדה בפולין, וסביבו,בחוצפה, גדלות כלניות מדהימות, ומעליו, נמתחים שמים תכולים יפהפיים.
    זכור! ה’ הוא טוב, הוא טוב, הוא טוב, לא תשכח! תודה שעזרת לנו לזכור.
    אוהבת המון, ימימה

  7. So beautifully said, and so comforting.

    When I am watching the my kids experiencing the excitement of Adar for the first time they can be aware of and understand, that feels like the only real thing in the world. And when I tune in to images and accounts of the suffering around us, only that seems real, eclipsing everything.

    The challenge is to hold them all at the same time, the compassion, the urgency, the awe and the joy.

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