The Daily Portion / Shehecheyanu (Who has granted us life)

In the 2nd Lebanon War, Chagit Rhein lost her IDF officer son 6 weeks before Rosh Hashannah. Her thoughts as she lit the holiday candles.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר
מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר
צילום: אייל בן יעיש

Shalom Sivan, this is Chagit Rhein.

14 years ago, on Rosh Hashannah eve, I was preparing to light the candles. This was a month and half after my son, Benaya Rhein, fell in the Second Lebanon War. Over the holiday candles we bless "who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion."

I stood over the candles and I felt that I was not capable of making this blessing sincerely. I wanted to bless from the heart, and I felt that this would be fake. How could I say "who has granted us life" when my son had just been killed?

I stood over the candles with tears in my eyes. I prayed for the strength and the proper insight in order to bless with joy.

After a period of time that seemed like eternity, I suddenly looked around. I saw our seven children, the son-in-laws, the daughter-in-laws, the grandchildren, and suddenly I understood: Yes, "who has granted us life."

Say thank you for all that you have, for the tremendous abundance in your life that cannot be taken for granted in any way. I felt my heart open and I shouted: "Who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion!" I think they heard me all the way to Kalkilya. . .

I have always endeavored to preserve the understanding gained at that moment so that it would not go away, but would rather become my worldview. If only all of us could succeed this year in raising our heads to see the good within the present crisis, to be joyful that we have arrived at Rosh Hashanah 5781, having been granted the gift of life."

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Ed. Note (Rochel S.): Chagit Rhein is a friend to whose home I speeded from up north as soon as I heard the news about Benaya Hy"d. She told me that her daughter was in the delivery room as we spoke - and in tears we understood the meaning of Job's words: 'Hashem gave and Hashem took, Blessed be His Name'. Benaya is memorialized in a lookout right before the entrance to Kibbutz Misgav Am with views deep into the Marj Ayun valley in Lebanon and the Shouf mountains in the distance all the way to Mount Hermon in the east and the Hula valley in the south. There is a recording system there that narrates the story of Benaya. Chagit is often asked to speak before students and after reading her words to Sivan, it is easy to see why.