Rabbinic Counseling

Rabbi Elazar has fallen ill, and he is lying on his bed in physical and emotional pain.

Rabbi Yochanan comes to visit.

Rabbi Elazar feels as though light has entered a room.

Rabbi Yochanan says, “I know you, friend.

“You beat yourself up over so many things…

“That you haven’t studied enough. But you know it’s not the quantity that’s important, it’s the heart. And you have heart.

“That you haven’t made enough money. But you know people can live well without affluence. And you have lived well.

“That you haven’t had children. And you know that I buried some of mine, and that having children can be as painful as not having them.

“Is it one of these, my friend? I hate to see you suffer.”

R Elazar answers, “No it’s not any of the usual worries.

“It’s that life has been beautiful. And the beauty of this life will end.”

R Yochanan is moved to tears and the two cry together.

Then R Yochanan asks, “Do you wish to suffer over this?”

“No,” says R Elazar, “It brings nothing good.”

“Then give me your hand, friend,” says Rabbi Yochanan, “and together we will walk into the light.”

— Berachot 5b, interpreted and retold by Laura Duhan Kaplan

Image: Francis Valadj. Hand Light. Royalty Free Use.

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