| Parshah |

Rhyme and Reason

The goal of the Seder is to teach emunah, and a primary aspect of emunah is belief that everything happens for a reason


“And He called to Moshe….”

(Vayikra 1:1)

hy is the alef in “Vayikra” written smaller than the other letters? The Yismach Yisrael ztz”l says this indicates that everything that happens to us, even the small and insignificant matters, is Hashem calling us. The minor struggles of life fluctuate from day to day, and we tend to dismiss such things as chance encounters. But nothing happens by chance. Hashem is calling us through each incident (Rav Elimelech Biderman, Torah Wellsprings).

I know a little girl who swallowed a die… I don’t know why she swallowed the die… But she didn’t cry.

I heard my daughter coughing from across the room. Absently, I glanced up and realized with alarm that her face was turning red as she coughed.

Lunging across the room, I grabbed her off the floor, trying to stick my finger down her throat. “Sweeping motion,” I muttered out loud. My fingers felt something lodged in the back of her  throat.

Eighteen years hasn’t dimmed the memory of that moment standing there over my daughter. Sweat beaded on my forehead, while the object wouldn’t budge.

Heimlich! Heimlich for a toddler! I’d taken a first-aid refresher course not long before at the seminary I was teaching in, and the practice sessions kicked in. But the object still didn’t move. I was scared to sweep further, fearing I’d push the item further in. My daughter was breathing, but with difficulty, so I grabbed her and the phone, calling Hatzolah as we ran up the stairs to our neighborhood doctor’s apartment.

This idea explains why we sing Chad Gadya at the end of the Seder. What’s special about Chad Gadya; what message is it giving us? The tzaddikim of Gur explain: The goal of the Seder is to teach emunah, and a primary aspect of emunah is belief that everything happens for a reason.

I knew the doctor generally wasn’t home now, but that didn’t stop me from banging down his door while monitoring my daughter’s color and breathing.

His wife opened the door, took one look, and called over her shoulder to her husband — the doctor was home! I don’t know why… He came quickly and attempted the Heimlich himself. And again. But no luck.

His wife came running from the kitchen, holding a pepper shaker. As she waved it under my daughter’s nose, she coughed more forcefully, and the doctor attempted the Heimlich at the same time.

Ping! The small object shot across the room and hit the opposite wall, and I felt something dislodge from my heart as well. It was over. The whole thing couldn’t have taken that long, but it felt like a lifetime.

The doctor wiped a hand across his forehead and smiled at me with his characteristic good humor. “All in a day’s work. Mine, and yours as a mother as well.”

Chad Gadya reinforces that lesson. Along came a fire and consumed a stick. One may think that it was by chance, but it was because the stick had hit the dog. But why was the dog hit? It was because the dog bit the cat. The cat was bitten because it ate the goat. Nothing just happened. Everything was for a reason. In life, too, everything that occurs is pre-planned for a reason.

Hatzlolah arrived soon afterward, and then my husband (a neighbor had called him). The UFO was identified as a mini die. How’d she gotten hold of one remains a mystery, as we had no games with such pieces. I don’t know why….

I returned home drained and shaking, but also elated at the incredible display of Hashgachah we’d seen.

My daughter had swallowed this object right in front of me and not in her crib where she’d been earlier. I’d heard her coughing. The doctor lived near us, and he was home! And that pepper worked. I’ll never view a pepper shaker the same way again.

All in a day’s work, yes, but focusing on the Hashgachah makes every day His work.

Perhaps this is why she swallowed the die…But yes, I did cry.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 836)

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