Sometimes it takes a hardship to help us realize what is truly important.
One day during the recent Chanukah vacation, my family and I took a trip to Jerusalem. We enjoyed the sites and sounds of the Holy City and returned home in the early evening.
When we arrived home the first thing we noticed was that the door was ajar. It had been broken open by a crowbar and someone had entered our apartment uninvited.
We stood at the entrance in shock looking into our ransacked apartment. The china cabinet, which only hours before had been filled with our precious silver Judaica, stood empty and bare.
Our oldest son was the first to speak. "Thank God they didn't touch any of our Jewish books."
Then our daughter, age seven, said, "Thank God we weren’t home when the robbers came in."
Here we were, faced with a terrible home intrusion, and our children could only find words of thanksgiving.
We quickly went to a neighbor who took in our children and fed them dinner. Then we called the police and walked through the apartment to take inventory of what was stolen.
They had taken my engagement ring, our computers, silverware from my beloved deceased grandmother. These items had both material and irreplaceable sentimental value.
We vowed not to let this ruin our spirit.
It was during this short time that my husband and I vowed not to let this event ruin our spirit.
The next night at dinner, my husband told the children that although the thief took many valuables, he did not touch our five most precious diamonds sitting around the table. This was a once-in-a-lifetime “teaching moment.” With this one statement, our children got a clear message of what their parents value.
Our children then proceeded to enumerate more positive aspects of the robbery.
One child said that the robbers did not touch anything in the children’s bedrooms – a great source of comfort that their personal belongings had not been violated. My husband's tefillin, a precious possession, had not been taken. My favorite bracelet, a 30th birthday present from my parents, had broken the previous week and was in the jewelry shop being repaired.
When tragedy strikes, we often immediately think of all that has gone wrong and all that we have lost. The power of positive thinking can turn a terrible situation into an uplifting one. It is completely in our control to determine how the situation will turn out.
We live in a world obsessed with money, possessions and status. Many times the first question new acquaintances ask me is, "What do you do for a living?" When I answer, “Pediatrician,” I invariably get a positive reaction. I mean, isn’t taking care of children a noble endeavor?
Sometimes, however, I answer the question differently. I say that I am the proud mother of five beautiful children. I can tell that they are not impressed. Sometimes they even pity me. Yet isn’t taking care of children a noble endeavor?
This is the world that we live in.
This robbery was a tremendous blessing for our family. My children were able to see that we do not cry over a lost ring or a silver goblet. Rather we value deeds of kindness, and appreciate all that we have.
These are the valuables that grow in value over time. And these can never be taken away.