Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Wheat, Old Wheat

Dear Friends,
I refer to you all as such for dear friends you truly are to us. Without you we would have been lost.
We are both from very large families. Despite the rule that every family has its ‘package’ our families were spared, by the grace of G-D, from any children with special needs. Thus, when our Mendele was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome we were lost, hurt, even offended that G-d hadn’t made our child perfect.
It took us some three weeks to let the secret out. We didn’t want our family and friends to see our disgrace but we knew how hurt they would be if they were told our secret by anyone else. Carefully, quietly and hoping no one would notice we whispered to our brothers and sisters that we had been blessed with a special child.
Well, whispering didn’t work. Our hopes of secrecy were shattered. Within days the entire community knew. We etched frozen smiles on our faces for inwardly we were in turmoil…
Suddenly, there you were, dear friends, fellow parents of special children, to guide and comfort us and help us cross over the bridge into our child’s the special world. You were there to help us see that our Mendele is perfect; exactly the way G-D wants him to be.
One wonderful new friend, an extraordinary mother of a special child told us that people often become condescending towards these children, as though they are, sadly, inferior. When they do she always tells them the following mashal as taught by Rabbi Nachman of Breslau:
Once upon a time there was a great king who lived in a palace. This king had a very close friend and advisor whom he kept close to him always.
One day the adviser said to the king, "Your Royal Highness, I have terrible news. I have just received word that this year's grain has a strange poison in it and anyone who eats from it will become... crazy!"
"What should we do?" asked the king. "Without the grain we can't survive, but if we eat those grains, even for our survival we will all become crazy!"
The king was distressed but the adviser had already made a plan.
"Your Majesty," he said, "Let the entire kingdom eat from the new grain. After all, going mad is better than starving to death. However, you and I shall put away some of last years grain and use only that for our sustenance until next years crop is harvested."
The king sat quietly and considered this advice. He slowly shook his head and to the dismay of his adviser said, "This plan will not do. If everyone in the kingdom is crazy besides us, everyone else will think that we are the crazy ones. No, we must commit ourselves to share the fate of the people."
"Then perhaps," ventured the adviser, "Perhaps we should also eat the new wheat but we should make a special mark on ourselves to remind us that we are not normal."
And so it was, before the king and his adviser ate from the grain they changed the way they looked so that they might never forget that they and all the people around them are not quite as they should be.
*The End*
The lesson, this dear mother explained to us, is that our world is full of terrible attributes such as hate, jealousy and anger. However, these special children, those blessed with DS, have no concept of hate, jealousy or anger. All of these crazy, destructive attributes are only granted to us "normal" people.
You see, our children have not eaten from the "new grain". In fact, if you look carefully you can see that we do look different than them!!


Mottel said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

well said!

Anonymous said...

So true

Anonymous said...

Thats nice.

Anonymous said...

Over Shabbos, I read a story with a similar point in Esther Jungreis' book "Life is a Test". She tells about an event that occured in the Special Olympics in Seattle. A group of children who had Downs Syndrome were competing in a marathon. Suddenly, one of the runners tripped and fell. The rest of the runners stopped and ran to his aide. A little girl, gave him a kiss on his knee saying, "This makes it feel better." The sincerity and genuine care that these Neshamos display and conduct their lives through can really teach us, consumers of new wheat, a thing or two.

Rivky Friedman said...

Thanks Chevie.
You are always on the lookout for good stuff!

Anonymous said...

wow! That was inspiring. I'm gonna share it.