The Big Surprise

The Big Surprise

I had forgotten about the big surprise…

Hadas’ friends had called me a few days before to tell me that they would be coming over that afternoon to throw her a surprise 14th birthday party.

But because I had forgotten about the surprise party until that minute (bad, disorganized eema!) Hadas had already gotten all dressed up to attend an out-of-town wedding together with my husband, and she was standing expectantly by the door, waiting for Abba to come home so they could set off together on their rare, special outing.

But how could I possibly convince Hadas to pass up on this big exciting outing with Abba?

So I secretly called Josh, and explained the situation, and when he came home he took Hadas aside and said, “Hadas, you can’t come with me to the wedding. I can’t explain why. But believe me, there’s a good reason…”

Josh left, and Hadas turned pink with disappointment. And then she started crying. And crying and crying.

I put my arm around Hadas in a failed attempt to comfort her. And Hadas, through her sobs, told me, “I can’t go to the wedding, and OF COURSE, nobody explains WHY!”

I felt so bad for my big girl; I felt her disappointment like a physical pain in my jaw that wanted so badly to just open up and tell her the truth. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise…

And then Hadas ran upstairs to cry and mourn her bitter fate in her bed all alone….

And then, as planned, 15 minutes later (which felt like 5 hours later) Hadas’ friends knocked on the door, and I sent them upstairs to her room to surprise her…

And before long, Hadas came downstairs with her friends all smiles and giggles…

“Are you happy now?” I asked her…

“Yes, so happy! Thank you, Eema!”

Last Thursday morning I decided to visit a neighborhood couple in order to raise money for the legal fight against the Nachlaot pedophile ring.

I’ve never attempted to raise money in a serious way before, aside from a raffle here and there. But still, I had no doubt I would be successful.

The story I would tell the couple was undeniably horrific, the need for a serious legal fight in order to save the neighborhood was completely undeniable, and I knew that this husband and wife are good-hearted people who have given large amounts of charity in the past.

So I sat with them for an entire hour and a half. I told them everything I know about the Nachlaot Pedophile Crisis and about our urgent need to raise money in order to take the legal fight up a notch.

And they sat with me for that hour and a half and nodded and listened very attentively and looked completely horrified by the horrific story I had to tell them.

And then, when I made my request for financial help, the husband replied kindly but firmly, “No.”

They would look into the situation more, they promised, and they would definitely get back to me with their thoughts on how they could help the neighborhood overcome this crisis. But they would definitely not be writing the check that I had assumed I would be leaving their home with.

So I went home, and at first I felt fine. But as the hours passed, I was surprised to feel how completely deflated and even depressed that encounter had left me (and how quickly and decisively it had put an end to my exceptionally short career in serious fundraising…)
Later that evening I told my husband I was losing it. I needed to take off a few hours to go to the Kotel.

And an hour later, as I walked up to the Wall, I had a realization.

I realized that every single person there, and every single person in the whole wide world, in fact, is missing something.

I looked at the line of women davening by the Wall, and imagined that one was davening about a sick child, and one was davening about a critical mother-in-law, and one was davening because she didn’t have money to pay the rent, and one was davening because all of her classmates were long married and her own husband was nowhere in sight…

And all of those women came to the Wall, just like me, because Hashem makes certain that every human being is always lacking something. Because it is that lack, that yearning, that pain that assures that we are always connected with Him, no matter what…

And at the same time, I felt something very strong in my gut.

Something wonderful, in fact.

I felt that sooner than later, I would be smiling just like Hadas did when her friends surprised her and made her realize that from the very beginning of her despair, there was a plan to end it.

Read Save Nachlaot’s Children and Win $1800

Image courtesy of user Waqas Mustafeez


  1. Once my husband was on his way to conduct negotiations with our former landlord about the money we owed him. On the way, he randomly selected one of Rav Arush’s shiurim to listen to: he fell on this:
    “It doesn’t matter who you are talking to, the bank teller, the lawyer, your landlord: always sit in negotiations as if you are talking to Hashem himself, since everything is from Him only. Appeal only to Him and no to the person in front of you. Rabbi Nachman calls this negotiating in faith.”

    WOW. He went to that meeting thinking we owed 15,000 shekels. He came out, after listening to “Hashem” for half an hour quietly and silently pleading to Him alone: only 500 shekels poorer!!!!! Or should I say 14,500 shekels RICHER!!!!!

    Don’t give up your worthy fundraising efforts: just rethink your perception of RICH DONOR!!!!!!

    B’Hatzlacha RABBA!!!!

  2. don’t give up, Chana Jenny! we’re with you!
    jewishmoms, if you love CJ, and if you can, do the $36 thing. look for “Save Nachlaot’s Children and Win $1,800”
    if every reader who can buys one ticket i think that project will succeed
    and besides benefiting the cause, it will give CJ encouragement to continue her campaign

  3. So totally amazing, how you saw the episode with Hadas as a mashal to the workings of Hashem in the world. So exact!
    And so beautiful.
    It is profound when we can see something in our own life that can give us chizuk that, yes Hashem is there for us. There is a plan to end our pain, our individual and communal pain. The geula is slowly being unfolded for us, even though we don’t see it yet.

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