• Akiva Murguia

The Shabbat Walk


Mrs. Devorah Stieglitz The Shabbat Walk

Maya, born in Russia and raised by her communist parents, was unfortunately never told that she was Jewish. Being taken to Church by her father and mother, she grew up knowing a life fairly distant from Judaism. However, as Maya turned thirteen and the Iron Curtain fell, her parents decided to move to America. Settling in Flatbush, a community heavily made up of Orthodox Jews, her parents looked to receive some financial support. Life was difficult and the family was in search of community assistance. After looking into the matter, they were told that they would in fact be entitled to such financial aid with one condition: they send their daughter to a Jewish school. Greatly in need of establishing themselves and being provided such amenities, the parents agreed to send Maya to the Bais Yaakov of Flatbush. As Maya began learning about Yiddishkeit, she instantly gravitated towards it. Tremendously inspired and driven to learn more and do more, Maya grew significantly in her knowledge of Torah and observance of mitzvot. Being given modest clothing from her friends, she soon looked like any other religious girl. Pleased with her own spiritual growth, Maya was quite content with her life situation. But her parents were not. Now fourteen years old and earnestly learning about Judaism, her parents could no longer handle it. Pressuring her to refrain from immersing herself in Judaism, they offered her an ultimatum: lighten up on her commitment to Judaism or leave the house. Daily fights and tantrums embittered the lives of her parents and by now Maya was not eating at home. And so, with the food not up to any kosher standard and constant pandemonium present in the house, Maya was asked to leave for good. And she did. One Shabbat afternoon, as Maya was staying at a friend’s house, she decided she would perform an act of chesed and visit an elderly woman. As she happily began walking down Bedford and J in Flatbush, however, a nearby driver lost control of his car and hit a light pole. Colliding head on with the light pole, the impact caused the pole to come crashing down. But it didn’t land simply on the ground; it took Maya down with it and landed on her arm. Now stuck underneath a gigantic light pole, Maya was in excruciating pain. Hatzalah immediately rushed to the scene and began tending to Maya. Doing their utmost to lift the pole off her arm and salvage her arm’s maneuverability, it was too late. The pole was heavily lying on her arm and crushing it. And so, the final decision was made to amputate her arm. Otherwise, concluded the Hatzalah members, her life was endangered. Waking up hours later in the hospital, Maya was discernibly groggy. Feeling as if her arm was still there, she internally sensed that she was moving something. However, in reality, that was not the case. As she awoke and remained motionless in bed, her father stood in front of her. And then he began to yell. “This is the G-d you believe in! You fight with us, leave the house, keep Shabbat, and this is what He does to you? How do you understand this? Why is G-d doing this to you?” Hearing such roaring words nearly moments after she opened her eyes, Maya was traumatized yet poised. She replied to her father, “Papa, if I would understand everything Hashem does to me in my life, then I would be Him. The fact however is that I don’t always understand what He does, and that goes to show me just how perfect He is.” Responding with such powerful yet honest words as a mere fourteen-year-old, Maya understood that this event in her life was somehow for her good. It was what G-d wanted and she was point he would undergo a purification process as detailed in next week’s Parsha. There was however an exception to this rule: a groom within seven days after marriage. While the determination that one possessed tzaraat needed to be pronounced by the Kohen, in the event that one was a chattan, the Kohen would simply going to accept it. Years later, Maya was now looking to get married. Going out with one boy after the next, the fact that she had a plastic arm did not bode too well for her. Although she was a sweet girl with a vibrant personality, finding her bashert was an elongated process. Finally, however, she made a decision which was the beginning of a life-changing process. Contacting the Hatzalah member who had years earlier helped save her life, she began to live with the family. Becoming a sister to the other girls in the family and herself a daughter to the husband and wife, Maya slowly but surely began to feel that she had a home and support system. All that she now awaited was to build a home of her own with a family. And then came the fateful day. As the Hatzalah member who had once saved her life was out and about one day, he was introduced to a brilliant young man. Talking for a while with him, he began to sense that here was a prospective match for Maya. And indeed, after meeting Maya and getting to know each other, they planned on getting married. Today, Maya happily lives with her husband and family in Israel. If not for that one Shabbat afternoon when that life-altering incident occurred, perhaps today she would be in a very different place. But now, after years of spiritual growth coupled with hardships and misfortunes, Maya stands as a proud religious woman raising beautiful Jewish children. Maya’s words say it all, “If I would understand everything Hashem does to me in my life, then I would be Him. The fact however is that I don’t always understand what He does, and that goes to show me just how perfect He is.” While While Maya could have given up and buckled under pressure many times throughout her upward climb in Judaism, she remained steadfast in her dedication through and through. Notwithstanding the most debilitating of setbacks, she surged forward in life trusting that Hashem would take care of her every step along the way. And indeed, He did. The same lesson is to be learned from tzaraat. Those experiences in life viewed as an “affliction” are in fact to be taken as the most opportunistic times for growth. For Maya, that very sorrowful Shabbat afternoon became the beginning of a long journey that today has paid unbelievable dividends for her and her wonderful family.


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