Dear Readers,

There once was a group of women who were studying the book of Malachi. They were interested in understanding the verse comparing G‑d to a silversmith: “G‑d will be like a refiner and purifier of silver.” So one woman visited a silversmith.

He showed her how he held the silver where the flames were hottest in order to remove its impurities. Closely watching it every second, he explained that if he kept it in the fire too long, it would be destroyed.

“How do you know when the silver is refined?” she asked.

He replied, “When I see my own image reflected on it.”

I thought of this story when I attended the wedding of my friend’s daughter. I had seen my friend sporadically over the past few years, and she had been through some hard times. Her younger child had been sick with cancer and had undergone a battery of painful treatments. After many months in and out of the hospital, her son was finally declared triumphant over his illness. She was ecstatic, but her joy was short-lived. Soon after, in a routine check-up, the doctors discovered that the illness had returned in full force.

Over the last many months, my friend once again endured the terrible agony of watching her child undergo medical treatments. Her life once again became consumed with fighting for his survival.

Tonight, celebrating her daughter’s wedding, her son was on the path to recovery.

Her face was so happy and full of gratitude, and yet her joy was also almost restrained—as if she was afraid to be too happy, lest something go wrong once again.

I hugged my friend. I could see the pain that she had been through reflected on her face, in new worry lines and wrinkles. I could almost see the many tears she had cried and the hardships she had endured.

As I watched her, I thought how none of us understands the ways of G‑d. None of us can fathom why anyone needs to be put into a “hot spot” or “fire” of life. I thought of the verse in Malachi, and I wondered about people who are put through the fire of life but seem to “break” from it.

Still, etched on her face was the evidence that throughout it all, G‑d had “held” her. Her strength of character, her deeper faith, her renewed conviction demonstrated the new person she had become, with the Divine imprint clearly reflected on her face. I silently prayed that she know no more suffering.

And then I thought of each and every one of us, who in some form or another is put through a trial, a hardship or a terrible challenge, and how G‑d “holds our hands” while we writhe in these hot spots to become the people we are meant to be. As we struggle to make the best life and world for ourselves and our families, outlined on all of our faces is the Divine imprint.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW