I just stood there, crying, in front of 100 guests. I kept trying to speak, but I couldn’t do it
Rav Gav Friedman
Popular lecturer, and teacher about Judaism and life for almost 20 years. “Some say I’m funny, some say deep, but none say boring.”
I’m not usually speechless, though there are times that I know there’s nothing to say. Like this past summer when I was in Dollarama in Cote-St-Luc (a suburb of Montreal), and an older man came over to me and asked, “Where was G-d during the Holocaust?”
I had what to say, but knew he wasn’t ready to hear it.
That was only at my son’s bris, 12 years ago.
Nine days earlier, my wife, who was in the ninth month of pregnancy with our third child, realized she wasn’t feeling any movement. We rushed to the hospital for monitoring and were relieved to be told everything was fine.
The next day, we came back to the hospital because my wife had started labor. Things were progressing normally, until suddenly, the monitor started beeping crazily. The baby’s heart rate had dropped to 25.
There was a flurry of activity by my wife’s bed as the doctors and nurses did everything they could to get the baby’s heart back to a stable 140. It took a few minutes, but baruch Hashem, the baby responded, and it seemed everything would be okay.
Until it happened again. And again. The baby’s heart rate would drop, the nurses would spring into action, I would stand helplessly at the side murmuring Tehillim, and the moment would pass.
When my son was born, he was silent. My wife demanded to know why, and the nurse reassured her that everything was fine, it was normal that he wasn’t crying. At the same time, she looked at me and shook her head slightly. I was to say nothing about what I was seeing — the nurse untangling the umbilical cord that was tied around his neck, three times. This accounted for last night’s lack of movement, and for those heart-stopping moments; with each contraction, the cord tightened around our precious baby, cutting off his blood flow.
With the cord removed, our baby gave a vigorous cry and was pronounced healthy. B’chasdei Hashem, we were able to make his bris b’zemano, eight days after his dramatic entry into the world. I got up to speak at the seudah, to give thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for this incredible gift.
Anyone who’s heard me speak knows that I’m emotional. But when I got up to tell this story, I became so overwhelmed, I just stood there, crying, in front of 100 guests. I kept trying to speak, but I couldn’t do it.
It was an awkward five minutes for our guests, who were sitting in silence as I tried to compose myself. Finally, I just wished the crowd mazel tov and sat down.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 760)
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