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Holding G‑d in Her Hands

Holding G‑d in Her Hands


Once, I saw G‑d.

It was on the holy day of Rosh Hashanah, but I wasn’t in the synagogue. I was in a hospital on that very wet morning, in a sterile and depressing geriatrics rehab ward, where a few old bubbies had gathered to hear the sounding of the shofar (the ram’s horn sounded on the Jewish New Year).

Every year I do this—blow shofar in the hospitals. Every year, at least one person cries.

This year there was a bubbeh who didn’t seem so old. She was very with-it. The sight of a shofar filled her with excitement. She poured out to me memories of her childhood; it seemed the past had just come awake for her. She had grown up steeped in chassidic warmth and soul, and even here in Vancouver it had never left her.

She recited the blessing, and I began to blow the shofar softly but clearly. The tears began to come. I’m used to that already; I just keep going. But when I finished, that’s when it was obvious that G‑d was there in the room. Because she was talking to Him.

“Oy, zisseh G‑tt! Tayereh, zisseh G‑tt! Mein zisseh G‑tt!”

She was crying and she was holding G‑d in her hands. The hands of an old bubbeh holding an infinite, timeless G‑d.

She called Him “ziss.” I had never heard that before. “Ziss” I had heard applied to desserts and to grandchildren. The Psalms of David and the Song of Songs talked about the Almighty in that way. But this was an old bubbeh. Her voice had that tone of love and compassion, yet she was filled with awe. She was crying wth sorrow, with joy, with pain, with longing . . . yet her words were sweet ecstasy.

I can’t translate those words she said. It doesn’t work in English. “My dear sweet G‑d.” It just doesn’t happen.

Because in English you don’t talk to G‑d the way a wife talks to her beloved husband, a husband who went away on a distant journey and you never knew if he would return, and now you’re suddenly in his arms. Like a mother talks to her small, sweet children, and like a daughter talks to her father who she knows will never abandon her. All in one. In English there is no such thing. But in the Yiddish of her childhood, she could say it.

For me, her cries smashed through the most profound journeys of the philosophers, popping them like a child pops bubbles in the air, like shadows disappear in the sunshine. They had no meaning here. They are ideas. This is G‑d. The real thing. This was revelation. Something the old bubbies had back there, back then. Something we had lost. Almost.

I had to leave to go to the synagogue. She was still in tears. I discovered I was smiling. You’ll think I’m insensitive, but I was helpless before this deep, uplifting joy that just arose from inside.

She cried. I was full of joy. Why shouldn’t I be? I had just seen G‑d face to face. Unzer zisseh G-tt.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Harise Poland DC November 16, 2016

G_d and the Bubbies Reading your description of this event is like being there. I feel what you saw and felt and it rings so true. Reply

Esther Liba NJ September 15, 2014

Liebe Zisse Tatteh! My dad OB"M taught me a song when I was maybe 6 or 7. He was around 40--much younger than I am now.

The words are: Oy vey, Tatteh, Liebe Zisse Fot-ter, and then a cascade of chiri-bims and boms. [Loosely translated: Oy vey Daddy, Loving, Sweet Father. Chiri-bom chiri-bom-bom.]

I will never forget the "paradigm shift" I experienced when I was told the Daddy in the song was G-d. This beautiful article brought that memory back for me. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida September 11, 2012

The Words of My Mother! As a child, I remember my mother saying those same words. She would say these words when reminiscing of the past and memories of her deceased families would surge for a moment. I would interpret them as: loving G-d, precious G-d like saying a prayer to a merciful G-d asking why are we suffering in this life? To me it is a sad expression that touches my heart profoundly. To Ed from Coconut Creek, how comforting to read your story and think that maybe, maybe, our departed are in a better place, and maybe your wife was gently asking you to let her go after all that time. Reply

Baylaperil W.H., Ct. via September 11, 2012

Unser zisseh G-d. Yafe meod. Beautiful. Brings back memories of my Bubbie. Visiting with her in synagogue on Yom Kippur. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 11, 2012

The Joys of Yiddish Thank you for your beautiful revelation! It's a story to remember.

Not long ago I attended two days at a Klezmer Kamp in the Laurentians and I was deeply moved. There were people who had come from all over, and some of these very old people had stories to tell, and songs to sing, and they were so beautiful, bringing me and my husband to tears, as it could have been, we were there, at that moment, in the shtetel, and here was, the fiddler on the roof.

It was its own revelation and since then I have been deeply aware of the power of yiddish, the old songs, the ancient music and the people still here... that do evoke something so magical and so astounding, of G_d, of our history, that it is really difficult to put this into words. Reply

Tehilla Sydney, Australia June 21, 2011

Hashem's hand and the shofar Beyond the beyond.
I DO believe you!
I have 'been there' in a similar situation when my Mother passed-on to 'lichtign Gan Eden", an illuminated Garden of Eden
(Although in a much different way).
How grateful you must feel towards G-d for that experience. May He continue to send you comfort and love. Reply

Celia Leal Sao Paulo, Brazil January 2, 2011

G´d`s Hands and the sound of shofar Dear Rabbi Freeman,

It is a beautiful and moving story. I was used to visiting the elderly at nursing homes and their wisdom speak to us.
I can imagine how must God had been felt by that Lady, because the blowing of the shofar has always had a deep impression in my heart. Thank you so much for sharing. Shalom! Reply

Ed. Coconut Creek, U.S.A. June 28, 2010

Beyond The Beyond. My wife died in Aug.of 2000. I said kaddish for 11 mnths in lieu of 30 days. During one of the 11 months as I laay sleeping one night, and I usually sleep w.a hand extended, I was awoken unusually. I felt a warm kiss on my forehead, a warm hand clasped my right outstretched hane, and a vry gentle warm kiss on my lips. I rose up and stated my wifes name.....and in that beautiful moment I knew it was her and I said her name out loud.
Also previously I had a shouting of numbers in my ear. I awoke and wondered if that was the ammount of time I had left. That next day I found out that it was the score of some sport that I do not recall. The folliowing week, as I put on my radio, a song came on and was singing a tune by Englebert Humperdink called "Let Me Go."
I believe that there are spirital forces that usually try to guide us and aid us in tines of distress in every possible way...and you bettere believe it! Reply

Jody Greeneville, TN September 28, 2009

Unser Zisseh G-tt Roughly it means Our Sweet G-d. Reply

shmuel scranton, pa September 23, 2009

nice this is a very beautiful and touching story Reply

Elsie Sparta, TN / USA September 19, 2009

Unzer zisseh G-tt. Can you translate this into english for me ? Unzer zisseh G-tt. Reply

D'vorah Larssen September 12, 2009

We Embrace (Hold) Each Other Thank you Rabbi for sharing the story of The Bubbeh Holding G-d In Her Hands!
I can relate to this Bubbeh - Since I began my Conversion Journey earlier this year it is as though G-d and I are tightly embracing each other & staring deeply into each others Love filled eyes....
"Oy, zisseh G‑tt! Tiereh, zisseh G‑tt! Mein zisseh G‑tt!" THANK YOU G-tt For Bringing Me Back Home to You & To My People! Reply

Celine Bennett Elliot Lake, Canada, Ontario June 9, 2009

Sweet I smiled too, I can relate to both side. Thank you. How wonderful He is! Reply

Davide Rome, Italy September 10, 2007

Very beautiful This story is very beautiful...
Thank you very much for your efforts in support of Jewish people.
Leshana tova tiikatev vetihatem Reply

Eric S. Kingston North Hollywood, CA April 16, 2006

The Face This is a very inspiring experience and story! Reply

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