While the story focuses on Chaviva (even though the father, Tzvi Moshe, played a significant role because he also saw the ad & wanted the baby, plus who else took care of Liat when Chaviva gave birth a month later to their 8th child?), the trial faced by their daughter Mina deserves a deeper look too.
The Dark Night of the Soul Emerges into the Light
Certainly, Chaviva never would have left them alone together had she known the depths of Mina's true feelings.
While it's easy to understand why Mina might find repulsive a baby with eyelids sunken into empty sockets and reeking of bedsores, her seething hatred & resentment seem extreme.
She even jabs the baby hard enough for the baby to flop onto her face.
But upon noticing both how the baby's face presses into the mattress and how the baby makes no effort to save herself, Mina realizes the truth of the situation and the danger of her own action.
She quickly seeks to right the baby back to her side (and literally right her own wrong), which allows the baby to breathe again, and causes the baby to emit a deep sigh like "a 100-year-old man."
This ignites Mina to realize how helpless the baby really is, which releases the compassion trapped beneath layers of hatred and resentment.
In a quiet voice, Mina reassures her new baby sister that she needn't worry and promises to help her.
And she does.
A Good Person vs. A Great Person
That initial spark of compassion fanned into a fiery idealism to nurture all special-needs children, to bring out their best and reach beyond any & all expectations.
Mina now runs the center her mother founded.
But retracing the steps back to before Liat entered the Tzachors' lives, how would Mina have been without Liat?
Probably a good person.
After all, her parents were clearly special & dedicated people. They were committed Jews, compassionate, and very dedicated to their children long before Liat appeared on the scene.
Being raised in such an environment no doubt produces emotionally healthy personalities.
But would Mina be the exceptional person she is today?
Plunging Down to Break the Shells & Enable the Good Sparks to Fly Upward
Sometimes, you need to go down before you can go up.
We all have dark parts of self.
Or, as Judaism describes it, we all have klippot (exterior shells) that cover our good parts, shells that need to be broken in order to release the beautiful spark trapped inside.
In order for the shell to be broken, we must access it first.
We can't do it unless we know it's there.
Without Liat, Mina likely never would realize that she possessed such a petty & dark side to herself, that she had the capacity to resent & hate an innocent baby so much simply because the baby wasn't externally appealing — because this wasn't the sister she wanted.
It was there whether Mina or anyone else knew about it or not.
And it would stay there throughout her life, whether she ever realized it or not.
But by Liat's mere presence bringing out such feelings, the situation forced Mina to deal with that part of herself.
Initially, she failed when she jabbed the baby.
But when she righted the baby, Mina righted her own self.
And then she could have just gone to bed after that, with that guilty discomfort of knowing she'd done something she never wanted anyone else to find out about.
But Mina took it one step further.
Not only did she correct her incorrect action, she took upon herself to help Liat.
Not only would Mina refrain from hurting Liat in the future, but she would even strive to both protect & assist Liat.
This ended up being a classic example of turning from evil and doing good, as directed by David Hamelech in Tehillim/Psalm 34:15.
Who is the Real You?
The Mina whose heart seethed with rage & hatred as she looked at her externally defective new sister is not the same Mina who now says about special-needs children like Liat:
"Our motto is to believe in every single one of the children and to know that the sky is the only limit...We invest everything we have in every single one of the children at the center. And we are confident that with love and faith, everyone can develop beyond all expectations."
And I think this is a crucial point.
As discussed on this blog before, everything is from Hashem, including your flaws.
Anything bad about you, whether you were born with it or whether you developed it from your upbringing & environment, was designated for you by Hashem.
So there's no need to feel paralyzing shame about those aspects.
Yes, healthy shame is good because it means that you understand the difference between right & wrong.
That grimace-inducing "uh-oh" feeling you get after doing or saying something can be a wonderful indication you need to rectify something.
But if the shame is so intense that you cannot even look at that aspect of self, that you deny or minimize it, then that's not helpful at all.
And it's not correct either because your ugly aspects aren't your fault. In other words, they don't reflect the REAL you.
They were implanted there by Hashem IN ORDER FOR you to deal with & rectify them.
And Mina is a great example of this.
Yes, there are 12-year-olds who would have felt instinctive compassion, even if the baby's physical reality repulsed them.
There are. Those naturally sensitive, compassionate types exist.
But the fact that Mina initially felt so negatively doesn't reflect on Mina's true essence.
Instead, Mina's true self is the compassionate person that she became, the person who developed into a crusader for the same child she initially rejected, and then expanded that heartfelt conviction & dedication to all special-needs children.
Seething hatred flipped into unconditional love.
And I don't think it would've happened without the initial challenge first.
And that's what our challenges are for: rectification.
Even if we initially fail (as Mina did), we can still make the necessary repairs.
Just like in Mina's case.
The compassion was there all along.
It just needed to be released.
- You are Not Your Flaws
- How Self-Hatred Blocks the Real You from Shining Through — and the Secret to Freeing Yourself
- Seeing Ourselves through Hashem's Eyes by Using a Measuring Scale of 0-10
- Learning Spiritual Growth from the Low-Life Butcher who Eventually Achieved a Good Name
- When Everything is Against You, Every Little Step Contains Even More Significance