My son was diagnosed with a form of brain dysfunction. Please let me know if his parents or grandparents did something to deserve this punishment. Should we blame ourselves for his illness? Also, how can we help him?


I am sorry about your son's diagnosis. It can be a difficult time for parents to reach an acceptance of why things happened this way. Often, they will incorrectly blame themselves or fault themselves for a child's sickness.

We do not know why G‑d runs His world as He does. We do not understand why there is suffering, sickness, poverty, hunger or the many seemingly unfair challenges and tribulations in our world.

We are told that sometimes very great souls need to descend to this world. These souls are so lofty that the physical realm cannot contain them, so they come into a body that "shatters" from its impact. Your son's brain might be somewhat dysfunctional because of the great holy soul that is enclothed within it. Many parents of special needs children vouch for this, explaining how despite the child's many needs, these children have a certain purity to them, or a certain power to them, in helping others to accept them because of who they are, not what they can give to this world, or to their families. Such children teach us the power of real love—a love that is not based on any preconditions.

As far as your question if you did anything to "deserve" this: Special children are most often given to very special families, who can see beyond their external dysfunction to the beauty of their soul. No, I do not think you should blame yourself for your son's sickness.

As far as what you can do to help him—as with any area of our physical world, its source is in the spiritual worlds. You can obviously help this child by doing mitzvot in his merit. You can choose any mitzvah that you like—extra charity, extra prayers, helping someone in need, mezuzah, kashrut, etc.--and keep it in his merit. You will thus be strengthening him spiritually and hopefully physically too.

While G‑d listens to all prayers, the supplications of a tzaddik, a righteous individual, are especially potent. I would advise you to write a note to be placed on the Rebbe's gravesite, asking him to pray on your child's behalf. Click here to find instructions on how to do so.

Wishing you success and blessings,

Chana Weisberg for