A Wondrous Portal Opened Wide...
12/21/2010 - 23:53
Jonathan Mark

 

In the midst of winter, 1942, in the midst of a war whose ending was unknown, with a new Dark Ages looming, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn initiated the writing of the "Moshiach's Torah Scroll." When the sefer Torah was completed years later, everything worked out but not quite. The Shoah was over, there was a new Jewish homeland, but for too many, the story reminds me of nothing so much as Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which the Piper Moshiach led all the children to a better place, only to come to a mountain wall where...

"A  wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
... For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
... And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before..."

Chabad.org -- where the spiritually curious could easily spend months -- has not forgotten the physically weakened, or even those with mental illness, who might feel as if the mountain of Yiddishkeit opens only for others, leaving the weak on the outside looking in.

Chabad's web site -- a "wondrous portal" all its own -- offers the weekly Torah portion for the deaf -- using signing and captions, to give but one example. And  something on deaf rabbis, as well. 

Here's an exchange on the Chabad site regarding mental illness -- but it could be about any illness.

 "Do you remember our conversation, when I asked you what was the hardest thing about having a mental illness? You said it was the silence; when people discover that you suffer from mental illness, they don't know what to say, and the conversation comes to an abrupt and awkward end. 
 "So I asked you, What would you like them to say? Your answer amazed me. You said, "I wish they would ask me questions about my illness. I wish they would show an interest to understand what I am going through. I wish they would give me the chance to share what I am experiencing, rather than let me suffer alone."
 "I'm sure not everyone is as willing to talk as you are, but I suspect that for many the stigma of mental illness hurts more than anything else. Thank you for letting me see it from your perspective. I promise to pass on the lesson.
 "G-d has presented your soul with a challenge, but He has also given you a bright and warm personality, and a strength of character that can stand up to the challenges you face. This is a gift that I hope you will share with the world."

There's an old story explaining why the Moshiach is so late.

When he comes we'll see. He'll be walking with a limp.

 

Comments

Beautiful column. In an era where you have to go to the "right" Yeshiva, wear the "right" black hat and eat "designer Yoshon" to be part of the Kehilla, Chabad continuously reminds us all, that Jews come in all shapes, sizes, races and disabilities and each is as legitimate as the next one. I think you are right, Moshiach will be limping and have a speech impediment like Moshe, and will be wearing a pony tail and blue jeans. We lose so much as a community by excluding everyone that doesn't look, talk or think like "us." The inclusiveness of Chabad maybe the biggest of all the blessings that they have brought to the Jewish world.
"I'm sure not everyone is as willing to talk as you are, but I suspect that for many the stigma of mental illness hurts more than anything else. The "stigma" of mental illness is the equivalent of the "stigma" of Jews. You direct one, I, recalling other "directors," do not direct either. Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor khmaio@earthlink.net

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