| Hosha Na! — Succos Theme 5783 |

Legs to Stand On   

We cry out and He responds

It’s every mother’s nightmare — the call that goes, “I’m in  the hospital. Don’t worry. I’m fine!”

But Yonatan wasn’t fine. He’d woken up, just after the beginning of Elul Zeman, feeling unwell and realized he couldn’t move his legs. Escorted to the hospital, he was now awaiting the results of tests.

It was surreal. Two weeks before, he’d teased us by climbing up a huge cliff and dancing along the edge. Now, this strong, six-foot bochur was lying paralyzed on a hospital gurney.

We planned to come from England to Israel to bring him home, but he rejected our plan. “I’m staying here, in yeshivah! They say I’ll get better.”  But time passed, and every time we visited, we saw our son reduced to a thin, very unwell, wheelchair-bound invalid. There was no diagnosis. It was heartbreaking.

Still, one thing did not change. Despite everything he was going through, Yonatan was determined to stay in yeshivah. He ignored the pleas of his siblings already living in Israel to come live with them. As far as he was concerned, his place was in yeshivah, and that’s where he wanted to remain.

His rebbeim and friends were amazing, ensuring he had somewhere to rest, taking him in his wheelchair to davening and shiur, providing him with food, tending to all his needs with love and concern.


On Chanukah, we visited Israel once more. We were so shocked by Yonaton’s appearance that we told him he was coming home. This time, he didn’t argue. It was clear he could no longer manage. With broken hearts, we packed up his belongings and brought him back to London.

We ran the gamut of specialists trying to find an elusive cure — but there was nothing. All that remained was his grit and determination. He never gave up.

I made up my mind to take him wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Day after day, he insisted I take him to the beis medrash to keep up his studies. I’d drop him off and then watch, tears in my eyes, as he dragged himself up the stairs. On a good day, he would stay for over half an hour. Other days, I would have to return to get him just as I reached home.

One particularly bad day, as I opened my siddur to daven, it hit me like the bursting of a dam. I was swept away in a tidal wave of emotion.

“Hashem — it’s not fair!” I shouted. “After everything he went through in his teenage years. After everything we’ve gone through as a family! And now! Now! How could You do this? You shattered our dreams.”

In the silence of our house, my words echoed.

“Hashem, I can’t do this anymore. It’s in Your hands!” I said, and I burst into tears. How long I cried, I have no idea, but when I finally stopped, I felt as though Hashem was embracing me. He was holding my hand. At last, I felt calm and cosseted.

We watched him fight and win, step by step by step.

This year, Yonatan was blessed with his own son.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 813)

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