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On Ronen's 4th Yahrzeit

On this day in history, 4 years ago on the Gregorian calendar, a little boy snuggled into the crook of my arm and fell asleep. I tried to capture a picture of how peaceful and serene he looked, finally calm after a long day of recovery and growing.

But on this day on the Jewish calendar (which that year was September 29), Ronen closed his eyes for the last time. No, it was neither peaceful nor serene; it was chaotic, traumatic, messy, and totally incomprehensible. We went from hoping to bring him home to bereavement in under 6 hours.


This morning at minyan I had intended to share some Torah. I asked the question, "At what point does a child become the central character in their own story, rather than a supporting character in their parents' story? At what point in life do humans achieve agency separate from their parents?" I reflected on Abraham and Isaac (not clear that Isaac ever achieved his own agency at all), on the stories of Sarah and Hannah that we will read of Rosh Ha-Shanah as well. I believe that the Biblical Author wants us to understand that God is the sole arbiter of fertility and conception, which is troubling in its own way. But I also reflected on the fact that infant loss only occurs in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) two times, and that each time the parents are clearly indicated as at fault - on this I have written at length and will eventually share.


And, if we are supposed to see ourselves in the Biblical text then, what are we supposed to believe about our own fault when our children die? At what point does God actually take account when God is writing the Book of Life if they haven't even been conceived yet at the time God is taking stock of the People? (This is rhetorical, not looking for passionate theological debate on these topics in this forum. Not today, anyway.)


Not sure the D'var Torah was coherent or well-planned, but... oh well. It was delivered from a place of passion and grief.


To my child, Ronen Eliezer, zikhrono livrakhah. My heart, forever and always.

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We hear you, we see you as we process our own stories. Thank you for sharing yours.

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