Travels With Yossi--Part III
The Ari story was meant to be simply a place-setting but then I decided to make it a post in its own right. It was originally just going to be background, because it was on the walkway to Ari's apartment that Yossi intervened in my relationship with HaShem.
We're approaching Ari's apartment between the flowerbeds, the late winter sunlight falling on the walkway. I'm along on this trip because I was enroute somewhere else when Ari called Yossi. "Ah, go ahead and pick him up--he's on the way and you can drop him off at work and take me downtown without having to make two trips," I said, assuring Yossi that double-cabbing it was okay. Of course it's okay--it's HIS cab, after all, and I'm 'family' so there's no real need to ask me...but he does, because he is polite.
He glances anxiously at me as we're walking. "What's wrong, Sarah? You haven't been okay all day," he asked.
I shrugged. "Nothing."
He stopped dead in the walkway. "No. Something is bothering you. It's been bothering you. What is it?" he pressed. "Is it your son? That he's in the hospital? He's going to be okay."
To my complete surprise and utter humiliation, I could feel my eyes start to water. I also felt trapped, and could feel the eyes start to show their whites and roll a bit.
"What IS it?" Yossi asked more gently.
"I'm angry at G-d," I blurted out. "Look at my son. He's the most observent, most religious, most loving person in the household. He davens correctly, he never forgets a bracha, he reminds his parents when we're supposed to do something we're not doing, and he does it not by rote but from the heart. And he's the one in the hospital!" I'm trying not to humiliate myself further by actually crying. "He's a really good kid and he has a kind heart. Why is he in the hospital?"
Yossi first looked stricken, then the stern visage of our forefathers asserted itself in his expression.
"You cannot to fight with G-d, Sarah," he admonished me. "You cannot be angry at Him, either. Angry that something bad happens, yes, this is true for all people, but it is all from HaShem."
"It's not fair," I wailed, knowing I sounded like a child but unable to help it. "I can't even pray! I'm too angry to pray."
"Fair? You think life is fair? You think I'm not angry about things that happen to me bad?" Yossi said sternly. "Betach! But it's all from G-d, Sarah -- and what does He want from you? Or from me? Or from any of us?"
He then lowered his head and turned his eyes to the ground, setting an example. "He wants His children to walk humbly before Him, and that we should be thankful for the blessings He gives us."
He looked at me and added, "Life has these tests, Sarah. We all have them. You, me, my wife, your husband, our children. Yes, and your son, too."
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," I muttered rebelliously, in English. The meaning got through, though.
"Yes, this is true!" Yossi exclaimed.
His eyes caught mine again, more gently this time. Yossi is a father also, and he adores his children. "Pray again, Sarah. Open your heart to HaShem. The gates of tears are always open, and a mother's tears or a father's tears are powerful."
We started to walk again. I sniffed, trying to compose my expression before reaching Ari's door. As we entered the building, Yossi paused. "Don't to fight with G-d, Sarah," he urged with a quiet intensity. "Pray, and I know your son will be all right. You'll see. G-d never closes a door unless He opens another door."
He's been correct about virtually everything else. How can I doubt Yossi? I'm davening again, and trying to find that elusive quality, humility. Even in the midst of my doubts, I'm trying to keep faith with G-d and with Yossi.