Close friends of mine have a child named Benjamin who was diagnosed with cysts in his lungs as an infant, and had surgery to remove them when he was five months old. Due to labored breathing he never learned to eat properly and was given a feeding tube at five weeks. As a result, he developed a severe oral aversion and refused to eat anything.
Other than the feeding tube sticking out of his nose, Benjamin is like any other child—learning to crawl and walk and babble. I’ve watched his mother try to force feed him but he simply cries and cries and it doesn’t work.
At a loss for other options, Benjamin’s parents put him on the waiting list for an intense three-month feeding course for children which cost $100,000. Seven months later there was an opening in the program and little Benjamin began the course. Thank G-d, their insurance paid the bill.
Benjamin was taken by the nurse and his parents were not allowed to be in the room. Parents can watch from behind one-way glass, but the children are not to see their parents.
After the first week, Benjamin had already made tremendous progress, and after three weeks his parents knew he was well on the way to eating like a normal, healthy child.
Upon reflection, Benjamin’s mother realized that essentially all the doctors did was force feed her child, something she had tried countless times herself. Curious, she approached the main doctor and asked, “How is it that you’ve succeeded where I’ve failed? I tried the exact same method, my husband tried it, but with us he just cries and cries, whereas with you he actually swallows the food! Considering how much this program costs, I assumed you would have some magic formula…”
The doctor explained, “Your child knows that you and your husband love him to pieces. He knows that the last thing you want to do is hurt or upset him. And he knows that when you force feed him, if he resists enough, you will stop. So he cries and cries and you cannot get him to eat. But I am a stranger, and he doesn’t trust me the way he trusts you. He doesn’t feel confident that I’ll stop if he cries, so he eats. That’s the trick.”
Wow! A $100,000 program because a child knows that his parents love him!
We can take a lesson from Baby Benjamin. Benjamin knows his parents love him so he cries and cries and resists until they relent. We know that G-d loves us; it’s time for us to do some screaming. This is not a time for platitudes; it’s a time for outrage.
We must cry and scream on behalf of the widows and orphans, the wounded and the traumatized. Ad matai? How much longer, G-d? No more! We refuse to accept it longer. It’s time to take us out of this dark and bitter exile, to a better, brighter future, where peace will reign and violence will have no place.
And while we cry and beg and beseech G-d, we will keep our faith. We will pray for the IDF which does everything it can to protect Israel, and we will take on extra mitzvot in the merit of our brothers and sisters in Israel. Put on tefillin, light Shabbat candles, give extra charity. We may be far away, but even our small deeds can help make a difference.