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Naomi Ragen
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The Ghost of Hannah Mendes Jephte's Daughter Sotah (A Woman Under Suspicion) The Sacrifice of Tamar

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This is not Divine Will      (August 12, 1999)

by Naomi Ragen

When I was a little girl, my parents forgot my baby brother in his carriage in the supermarket. Twenty minutes later, they ran back and found him, alive and well. As a mother, I remember the time my two year -old wandered off while I was busy shopping. Ten minutes later, I found him walking down Jaffa Road, surrounded by a crowd that told me what a horrible mother I was. I agreed. Thank God, I was lucky. He didn’t walk into traffic. He too, was found, alive and well.

And so, as a daughter and a mother and now a grandmother, I am not prone to be judgemental when I hear of momentary parental lapses. I try to understand.

But how a parent forgets a child for hours, enough time for him to die of heat exhaustion in a locked car, is hard for me to understand. I try to picture it. Everyone climbs out of the car. O.K. There are lots of kids. I glance at each one. If there’s a baby, don’t I check it we took his pacifier, or his bottle? Isn’t that natural? Before I put the milk into the refrigerator, or I worry about taking the kids swimming in the Kinneret, don’t I glance over to my husband to see who’s got the baby? And during those several hours when I’m together with my kids, don’t I notice one child is missing? And if I don’t, what does that say? Perhaps, that I’m used to not knowing where all of my children are.. That I’ve simply got too many for me to care for.

Reading about the funeral of the baby from the Golan, I remember being struck by the things that were said: The will of God, the religious grandparents said. The mystery of His ways. And now there will be another funeral of another child, with probably the same things being said. And I wonder: Can it be the will of God that people have more children then they can care for?


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Last modified: August 20, 1999