My Heart Exults in G-d
By Moshe Feiglin
Translated from the NRG website.
And Hannah prayed, and said: My heart exults in G-d, my horn is exalted in G-d, I rejoice in Your salvation. (Samuel A: 2:1)
Hannah exulted in her praise of G-d. Right now, her song of praise fits me.
Late afternoon on the eve of Yom Kippur; I was walking down the street of my neighborhood, deep in thought. I had just finished the pre-fast meal at the home of friends and I was on my way home. The clink of dishes being washed rang from the houses along the empty streets. Everyone was busy with last minute cleaning – of their dishes and of their souls – as the holy day approached.
I took advantage of the short walk to call my wife, Tzippy, who had not left the hospital since our son, David’s accident.
“Say shalom to David,” my wife said and put her cell phone to his ear.
“Shalom, David. A lot of people will be praying for you on this Yom Kippur.”
“DID YOU HEAR THAT???” Tzippy shouted in a tear-choked voice.
“Did I hear what?”
“He said ‘shalom!'”
I hadn’t heard, but I stood, frozen to the ground.
“Are you sure that you heard him? You’re not imagining it?”
“What did you say? Can you say it again?” I hear Tzippy asking David.
“Sha-lom,” I hear my son whisper again.
Blessed are You, G-d, King of the world, that You have given us life and sustained us and brought us to this moment.” I pronounced the blessing for joyous occasions, my throat choked with tears, in the middle of the empty street.
“Amen,” my wife answered.
My heart exults in G-d, my horn is exalted in G-d, I rejoice in Your salvation.
“Shabbat Shalom,” a neighbor says just before I enter the synagogue. “David said ‘shalom'” I answer her, and she shouts something and begins to cry. Even before the Kol Nidrei prayer begins, the entire synagogue is abuzz with excitement.
On the day before the fast of the 17th of Tamuz, David was rushed to the hospital with a head injury listed as critical. Just before the fast of the 9th of Av, he began to breathe unassisted. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, David pulled the feeding tube out of his nose and began to swallow by himself – a drop at a time.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, almost three months after the accident, David said his first word.
“Does he understand that today is Yom Kippur?” I ask myself throughout the prayers. “Maybe after the fast, Tzippy will tell me that he refused to eat.” “Stop fantasizing!” I admonish myself. He has just emerged from a coma, he has lost more than twenty kilos, he weighs less than 50 kilos (and he is 1.85 meters tall). Why should he refuse to eat? And anyway, he has no idea where he is, or what day it is. You must be realistic!”
“He refused to eat,” Tzippy tells me after the fast. “He said ‘fast’. In the afternoon one of the nurses finally managed to feed him.”
We brought David home for the first time for a 24 hour vacation for the first day of Sukkot. A friend who is a carpenter built a ramp up our stairs for his wheelchair. The entire street was decked out in celebration.
We still have a long way to go. There are high points and low points. The way ahead us is still long and difficult. But prayers work. We thank G-d and thank all of you for your prayers – from the bottom of our hearts.