By Dr. Zev Ballen
When we noticed that our son Yossie wasn’t developing “normally”, we took him to the best Manhattan doctors we could find. After subjecting him to a long battery of tests and interviews Yossie was finally given the diagnoses of “pervasive developmental disorder” and “autistic spectrum disorder.” Before his diagnosis, we had enjoyed our son and accepted him with joy; after his diagnosis, Yossie’s very presence in our home filled us with dread that he wasn’t “normal” and that the burden was solely on us to save him from the terrible future that his doctor’s portrayed for him – that was almost twenty years ago.
When at last we discovered the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, Hashem gave us the right type of mental composure to realize that it wasn’t Yossie who needed fixing – we did. Breslever teachings helped us to see that our son had been sent to help us fix ourselves. When we started turning to Hashem for advice we prayed: “Hashem, why did you send us this child?”; “Do You think that we’re dealing with him the right way?”; “What do we need to learn from him?” etc. From the moment we stopped fighting against Hashem’s decree we started really connecting to our son – we saw that Yossie was the key to an intense joy that we knew nothing about. Encouraged - we stopped trying to make him normal and started to think about what was missing in ourselves that required us to be given such a gift.
If Hashem has sent you a special child you should know, first of all, that Hashem considers you to be very special parents – He trusts you with a soul that is so sublime that it doesn’t fit easily into the physical world. Hashem does not want you to worry for one second about your child – He has simply sent you the key to a new life that you never would have thought was possible. A special child will show you that everything that the secular world has seduced you into thinking is necessary for your happiness and security in this world is false. Our son reminds us that the conventional pursuits of success and recognition will never work even for those with great intelligence unless one is connected to one’s ultimate purpose. Our son is happy because he accepts who he is – his pure wholesome innocence can bring a smile to the grouchiest medical examiner. Rebbe Nachman has said that sometimes the only way to stay happy is to engage in good-natured silliness and fun – our son gives us plenty of opportunities for that! If you have a special child you should be proud of him; Hashem has made you one of His special emissaries to show other parents how they can also be happy with their special kids.
You can start right now by letting Hashem know that you recognize the wonderful qualities that He put into your child. “Thank you Hashem for sending us this child who never lies; who doesn’t get jealous; who never gossips about others…thank you for this pure soul who does not sin… who is simply happy to be who he is.” By speaking about the beauty of your children you are showing Hashem how much you appreciate him. If Hashem wants your child to become a rocket scientist he can do that in a second, in the meantime just love him and enjoy him - he or she will teach you how silly it is to aspire to be “more” than you are. These kids show us that we also don’t need intelligence, sophistication and ambition – happiness is what we need! Indeed if intelligence doesn’t lead us to be happy with what we have, how can we even refer to it as intelligence?
A bright and successful businessman came to speak to me about his daughter – he was very unhappy that his daughter was not developing like other children do. He told me that what was hurting him most about the situation was that he didn’t believe he had done anything to deserve such a decree. His logic went like this: If he and his wife were’nt such nice people and didn’t give so generously to charity he could understand the “verdict” - but he does give generously – and still this was happening to him.
Let’s try to understand this man’s dilemma through the eyes of someone who is always close to Hashem - Rabbi Shalom Arush. Continue here...
Dr. Zev Ballen