In the previous post, we saw how Mrs. Kanner avoided being completely crushed by the He'der Gehinnom on Earth due to the inner resources imbued from her commitment to Torah & mitzvot.
However, every person has a limit.
Different Choice Boxes for Different Folks
Within that same timeframe at the awful Nexon transit camp, Mrs. Kanner meets Rebbetzin Kremer, a profoundly religious woman who, with her husband, devotes herself to her people in the camp.
Rebbetzin Kremer took upon herself to attend to the purification ritual of the increasing number of dead Jews in the camp.
But being a one-woman chevra kadisha soon overwhelmed her and she turned to Mrs. Kanner for help.
Despite any prior experience in such a task, Mrs. Kanner agreed.
But ultimately, she couldn't tolerate it.
The first time Mrs. Kanner assisted the rebbetzin in this chessed shel emet, she needed to run outside to vomit.
Then, biting her lip, she forced herself to work for another hour, fighting nausea the whole time until she ran out to vomit again.
Two days later, Mrs. Kanner forced herself to return to help the rebbetzin, but again, found herself rushing outside to vomit.
In Mrs. Kanner's words (page 175):
“Rebbetzin Kremer, I cannot do it. I am not strong enough.”
“But, my dear, it is a mitzvah.”
“I know, I know,” I moaned. “I want to help. I am a religious woman, but this I cannot do.”
The last time she saw Rebbetzin Kremer, the rebbetzin was helping two elderly ladies walk to the train deporting Jews out (which prevented these ladies from being maltreated by impatient Nazis).
Do you think that anyone should compare Mrs. Kanner to the rebbetzin?
Do you think that in Shamayim, there's judgement on Mrs. Kanner for not being able to do what the rebbetzin did in those circumstances?
You can't compare the two at all.
For Rebbetzin Kremer, attending to the needs of the dead lay in her personal choice box.
It was difficult in such awful circumstances, but she was able to do it. She was able to choose to do it.
And while Mrs. Kanner behaved heroically when she volunteered to assist the Red Cross nurse in her rounds, helping with the taharah ritual was simply outside Mrs. Kanner's choice box.
As Rav Dessler notes, we aren't judged for that which lays outside our choice box.
Some things really are beyond our present level & are simply not realistic for us where we stand now.
As the book Shattered Crystals shows, Mrs. Kanner was a devoted, courageous, resourceful, and heroic Jewish woman.
Her inability to help with this particular mitzvah doesn't minimize her personal greatness.
Yes, something might be important. It might be a big mitzvah.
But what if you simply CAN'T?
We can only achieve what lies within our choice box.
And, through our inner growth, we can expand our choice box over time.
But we can't accomplish what lies outside the range of realistic choices available to us.
You can break a person by pressuring them to perform what lies outside their personal choice box.
Real chizuk means encouraging a person to choose correctly according to his or her unique level & personality.
May we merit to always make choices that elevate us.