Our sages liken the Galut (exile) of Israel to pregnancy, and the Messianic redemption to birth. Our Galut, they further explain, is a double exile — the imprisonment of the soul in the body, and the dispersion of Israel amongst the nations — and involves three types of suffering: a) normal suffering, comparable to normal pains of pregnancy, b) the harsher suffering, comparable to labor pains, and c) specific suffering of the passage from exile to redemption, comparable to birth itself.

Nowadays, one of the issues foremost on people's minds is the issue of suffering. Why is there so much pain and suffering in our world? And specifically so much Jewish suffering?

This question is unanswerable, and, until Messianic times, any intellectual endeavor at a response is severely inadequate.

Following is an emotional response — from the perspective of a mother.

Dear G‑d,

I glance down at an alien body that is my own. My swollen belly encompasses a numbed mind, imprisoned in engorged limbs. Fatigue is my constant companion; immobility confounds me. My children see a mother who at times is too weak to mother.

Time passes...

I progress through the various stages of gestation. I experience different forms of discomfort and pain. My will remains steadfast, yet is frustrated by what feels like heavy lead. I am trapped in clumsiness and lethargy.

We cannot fathom the need for the pain, for the agony. It is beyond human comprehension

Time progresses...

I am nearing the culmination. Now begins the true labor of pain. The contractions come faster and faster, stronger and stronger; all is breaking loose.

I am blinded by agony, engulfed in pain. I reprimand myself not to lose focus.

Focus... focus... you must remain focused...

I have come so far. I have not enjoyed the suffering, or the unrest, yet I have accepted that it will come to an end, a glorious end that will create a beautiful new beginning.

The euphoria experienced at the moment that the newborn's healthy cry pierces the silence defies description. I feel surrounded by warmth and brightness; the moment is replete with meaning and purpose. The months of anticipation, struggles and discomforts, pain and suffering somehow fall to the background, forgotten as I cradle this bundle of love.

Dear G‑d,

A divine soul descends to this world from great spiritual heights. It becomes enclothed in a body with an animalistic life force, concealing and obscuring its divine countenance. The soul comes with a mission to sanctify its surroundings, its environment, indeed the entire world. It is enjoined to refine materiality by subordinating and transforming the physical.

The soul is exiled from its heavenly abode. It descends into a nether abyss. It bemoans its fate, surrounded by dull corporeality. It wanders to and fro trapped in man's constant mad rush that reflects his inner searching. It loathes the world's warped pursuit of materiality, its distorted value system and skewed perspective aggrandizing worthless endeavors.

The soul attempts to assert itself, to enable its voice of truth to be heard. It has the capability and the power to achieve its mission. Indeed, this soul can achieve the ultimate purpose of creation, imbuing all of creation with light and vitality, and permeating it with the Divine.

Dear G‑d,

Galut envelops us in suffering and agony. Throughout the ages, throughout all the gestations of exile, the Jewish people have suffered the whole spectrum of hardships — from economic discriminations, to religious persecutions, forced conversions and physical decimation. We have progressed through the stages of mass murders, forced expulsions, and exiles from our land.

Perhaps the hardest part, though, is the uncertainty of whether it will even come to an end; the self-doubt of what we are all about; and the fear of it all being purposeless; the flock without an apparent leader, wandering without direction.

Focus... focus...

We've been through so much. We may be physically immobile, spiritually lethargic, yet our will must remain strong, steadfast. We cannot fathom the need for the pain, for the agony. It is beyond human comprehension. Yet ultimately, in the deepest recesses of our sojourning soul, we believe, no, we know, it will end, and create a far more beautiful beginning.

"...for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."(Isaiah 66:8)

Together, united, we await the cry of the shofar of redemption, piercing the fog of exile, beckoning us to rejoice in the perfect new era of true life and meaning.

Dear G‑d,

As an expectant mother, I awaited the end of the nine months that were pregnant with discomfort. I counted down first the months, then the weeks and finally the days, the hours, the minutes and the seconds. I withstood the pain and the agony knowing that the awaited time was near. And then I rejoiced in the birth of life.

How long, G‑d must Your nation await the birth of this New Era?

We've experienced the suffering, the gestation and even the excruciating birth pangs of the long endless exile. Now, dear G‑d, is the time of our rejoicing!