Greener Pastures Lie Ahead
By Esther Kaplan
Tu B’shvat of 5777 was on Shabbos. I will never forget that Shabbos because it was spent in Shaare Tzedek Hospital with my brand-new baby boy who had been born that Friday. I was emotional and lonely, my husband at home hosting a shalom zachor for our first son and taking care of our young daughter. Most new mothers had visitors over Shabbos, many of whom came bearing dried or fresh fruit from the shivas haminim. Rather than dwelling on my loneliness, I decided to spend Shabbos just enjoying the presence of my newborn who I kept with me for the duration of my stay at the hospital. I will forever cherish those moments. If only I had known how fleeting they would be.
Only sixteen weeks after his grand entrance in this world, just as Shavuos ended, our precious Shlomo’s neshama was called to return to its place under the kisei hakavod. He came into the world on Erev Shabbos at the onset of Tu B’shvat, a day of renewal and freshness, and left it on Erev Shabbos at the close of Kabbalas HaTorah, the time when klal Yisroel would start bringing bikkurim to the Beis Hamikdosh.
His life came full circle and his mission was complete.
In that short time, and in the time following, Shlomo, our little guy, had forever altered us. He taught us about the precious gift of life, every moment of which should be cherished and never taken for granted. He increased our very capacity to feel sadness and grief, yet happiness and joy as well. He raised our conscious awareness of Hashem’s hand tightly holding and guiding us through every breath, step, and thought, always and forever. And although unbelievably it has been nearly four years since we have last seen Shlomo, his place in our hearts has never wavered. He comes with us wherever we go.
The lessons that he left for us have proven to be tremendous gifts that we otherwise would never have been able to experience. There are a million little ways in which we have changed; they are interwoven and inseparable pieces. However, one lesson in particular has rung true for me and has become the mantra I repeat to myself as often as I can remember. Hashem loves me. Everything Hashem does is with love and kindness. And when Hashem withholds a yeshuah, I believe that He has good reason for it, and perhaps has something even better in store.
Our vision is so limited, and Hashem is perfect, Divine, complete. This is not to say that when hard times come, we don’t acknowledge them honestly. In fact, it is part of the nature that Hashem created us with. Sadness, anger, and grief all have a place in this world. They are part of the process of life. All the same, it is imperative for us to remember that there is much more to the story than we can possibly know or understand.
Additionally, we are so fortunate to believe with pure faith that a time will come when the complete picture will emerge and become clear. The darkness will be but a memory, and we will forever be able to bask in the light of truth and clarity. Bearing that in mind may help us get through even the most desperate of times.
So, on Tu B’shvat, as we witness the start of spring, a tiny bud in the heart of the winter, let us remember that behind the cloudy gray sky the brilliant sun always shines.