By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
Dear Rabbi Fried,
We have been in tremendous pain the past few weeks over a miscarriage we suffered in the sixth month. It’s hard to describe the sense of loss, and we can’t help but feeling it was so senseless; why would God put us through all that anticipation and both physical and emotional suffering for nothing? We’re hoping you can offer some comfort.
— Sandy and Larry
Dear Sandy and Larry,
I can empathize with you from experience what that feels like, for the woman even more than us men, but it’s sufficiently difficult for us as well. The best I can do for you would be to share a very beautiful letter written to a mother who went through a similar loss by a leading rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Wolfson:
(from “Service of the Heart” by Rabbi Moshe Wolfson ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)
“I would like to express a number of thoughts which I hope will, to a certain degree, ease your situation. It is possible that my words will offer you nothing new, but my feelings of sympathy impel me to try…
In heaven there is a Heichal HaNeshamos, a Sanctuary of Souls, the source from which all the souls come. The Final Redemption will not come until all souls have left this Sanctuary and descended to this world (see Yevamos 62A).
“Each soul has its own unique mission to fulfill in this world, and is allotted the life-span necessary to fulfill that mission. Some souls belong to a very exalted class. They are of such a sublime nature, so holy, sparkling and brilliant that they simply cannot bear to exist in this world for even a short time. However, they too must leave the Sanctuary of Souls so that it will be emptied, and for other reasons known only to Hashem.
“And so Hashem chooses a particular couple that will draw such a soul down to this world. It departs its place near the Throne of Glory and is immediately placed in an environment in which it is at home– an environment which is Divine in nature. A woman who is with child carries within herself not only a child, but an entire Garden of Eden as well. A flame from the hidden light of Creation shines above the child’s head, and by that light the child sees from one end of the world to the other. A heavenly angel learns the entire Torah with the child. All this occurs with every Jewish child.
“However, those special souls of which we have spoken cannot bear to separate themselves from their sublime existence by living in this earthly world. And so they are spared this discomfort and are returned to their Father in Heaven, having fulfilled their mission by leaving the Sanctuary of Souls, and residing within their mother, thus bringing the world one step closer to the Final Redemption.
And what of the mother, who had endured, hoped, and in the end was so terribly disappointed? She is of flesh and blood, and her feelings are understandable.
“However, in loftier moments, in moments when her intellect can overcome her emotions, the mother can free herself of her earthly thoughts and share in the elation enjoyed by her soul. Then she will become infused by a feeling of true joy — the joy of a wealthy person who takes reckoning of all his business endeavors and sees that his profits far outweigh his losses.
“She has merited to have had as her guest a pure, holy soul accompanied by a Divine light, a heavenly angel, and a heavenly Torah. The Master of the Universe had created a beis medrash, a study hall, for this soul within her. And when this soul left her, some of the holiness that had entered her remained, and will not leave her for the rest of her life. She has merited to bring Moshiach’s arrival closer by offering a sacrifice for this purpose. She is not left with a mother’s usual compensation; all that she has endured has been for the sake of Hashem and His people, not for her personal joy and satisfaction. She has served not as a worker who awaits immediate payment, but as a loyal soldier, who is ready to suffer wounds in battle, if necessary, solely for the glory of the King…
“One should realize that the term “miscarriage” is not found in the believing Jew’s dictionary. The term implies that one’s efforts have ended in failure that all has been in vain. This is incorrect, for when a Jewish woman becomes pregnant, it is never in vain. Moreover, a child will merit techiyas hameisim, resurrection of the dead, even if its time with its mother was short-lived (see Igros Mosh, Yoreh De’ah III, 138).
“May the Master of the Universe grant you nachas and good health. May you merit to bring into this world and raise healthy children and grandchildren who will toil in Torah study and mitzvos. May you and your husband derive much joy and satisfaction from your family and together escort your children to the chuppah with joy and feelings of gratitude to the One Above.
May you, along with all of the Jewish people, merit to greet Moshiach — whose arrival you have brought closer.”
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at email@example.com.