Dear Rabbi,

In general, I enjoy your daily thoughts. However, today’s Daily Dose made me very upset:

Everything can be done with joy.

Even remorse can be with joy.

My son is going through treatment for a rare form of leukemia. Not “everything” can be done with joy, and trying to do so would make you crazy.

There is clearly no joy to be found in watching one’s son suffer.


You are not just upset. Mothers don’t get “upset” when their child is suffering. You are angry. Which is good. It means you are alive.

That’s the hardest part of watching suffering—the anger that seethes just beneath your skin, eating away at your soul. Hold it in and it can burn you out. But if you release it, in the right way, at the right time, it can heal the pain.

The time of prayer is a time when you can release that volcano rumbling beneath the outer crust. It’s a time when you can scream at G‑d, “Why did You do it this way? Why does my son deserve this? Where is the meaning in any of this? What kind of a world have You made?”

Everything now is out on the table. And you discover you have faith. After all, if you don’t see G‑d as a good G‑d, a just G‑d, what are you angry about? Whether you admit it or not, your anger is the greatest confirmation of a deep-seated, interminable conviction that G‑d must be good, and there must be only one of Him.

Beneath this release of bitter anger, as strange as it may sound, is a deep joy. Not a joy you may be aware of in any way—although eventually it too must come to the fore. It is a joy that you have a G‑d to be angry with. That the two of you have a relationship; that even when you are angry with Him, nevertheless He is still your G‑d, and you have a right to speak with Him, even to admonish Him and demand an explanation.

It is a joy something like the love of a couple who have been married long enough to become so close that even when they fight, yell and slam doors, the love is still pulsating just below the surface.

So, and much, much more so, is our relationship with our G‑d. There is nothing closer.

My prayers are with you, that your son should come out of all this healed, healthy and strong. May he give you only joy from now on.

See The Heresy of Kindness.