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The Gift of Life

At the moment of their deepest, darkest pain, Jewish mothers become Jewish heroines


AS Basya reached for the rice in her cabinet, she could feel the promise of new life within her.

Basya smiled and thanked Hashem. It had not been an easy journey. It had been five years since their youngest was born, and when Basya found out she was expecting, the thought of a new baby in the house was exhilarating.

Yet it was not to be.

Midway through the pregnancy, complications arose. To Basya’s dismay, the doctor could no longer detect a heartbeat. Instead of a bris or a kiddush, Basya buried her so-anticipated baby.

And now, a year after the traumatic loss, Basya was again expecting. With early medical intervention and modified bed rest, Basya was less than a week away from her scheduled delivery.

It was a Tuesday afternoon; as Basya felt the baby’s movements, she took a moment to appreciate her brachos.

The following Sunday was her son’s bar mitzvah.

The day after the bar mitzvah, Basya would deliver her full-term baby.

Life was good.

Life was predictable.

Life was on schedule.

Until it wasn’t.

On Wednesday afternoon, Basya realized something was amiss. It wasn’t an unpleasant ache or pain that caused her angst; quite the opposite — it was the absence of any feeling that was causing her uneasiness.

The baby!

Basya realized she hadn’t felt the normally active baby moving within her. She rushed to the doctor’s office. With resignation, the doctor conveyed to Basya the news she dreaded, yet deep inside, already knew.

The baby within her was no longer alive.

The bar mitzvah was four days away.

At the moment of their deepest, darkest pain, Jewish mothers become Jewish heroines.

Basya told the doctor and her husband that she didn’t want anyone to know about the lifeless child. She would deliver as scheduled the following Monday.

Her son deserved a bar mitzvah just like any other boy.

Her other children all had new suits and dresses and were excited about the simchah.

Both sets of grandparents deserved the nachas they merited.

Basya emphatically stated, “This simchah will be like any other bar mitzvah. I accept Hashem’s plans, and we will all be b’simchah.”

The entire Shabbos, Basya and her husband ran their Shabbos tish like any other Shabbos. When Sunday evening approached, Basya turned to face the maternity gown hanging in her closet.

It had changed over the last three days. No longer was it the exquisite gown she’d anticipated wearing. It now looked like tachrichim, a shadow of darkness covering it.

Yet Basya did as Jewish mothers have done from time immemorial; she put her feelings aside and donned the garment while tears streamed down her face.

Basya entered the hall with the smile of a woman painfully suffering inside while portraying simchah on the outside. She graciously accepted mazel tovs and greeted and embraced all those attending. As great as her pain was, Basya’s determination to give her son a bar mitzvah like every other boy’s was even greater. Her rock of support was Hashem Himself, as the reality of Imo Anochi v’tzarah fortified her steadfast resolution to remain joyous.

Her mission finished, she returned home to collapse in bed as tears of sadness for her lifeless child mixed with tears of gratitude to Hashem, Who she knew had stood by her the entire evening.

The next morning, Basya went to the hospital to deliver her lifeless child.

But this would not be her final trip to the delivery room. He Who sees all and He Who counts our tears would accompany Basya back to the delivery room a year later when she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy boy.

“Hazorim b’dimah, b’rinah yiktzoru — Those who sow in tears will reap in happiness.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 925)

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