Last year, a man who comes occasionally to pray with us in the minyanThe group of ten adult Jews needed to read from the Torah and to recite some of the most important communal prayers. In Orthodox communities, a quorum of ten men is traditionally required. Today, most liberal Jewish communities count all Jewish adults as part of a minyan. where I live in Brazil asked me to talk. He told me the story of his stillborn son.
The “boy” would be celebrating his fortieth birthday in the next month. The man told me that from that time, forty years ago, he didn’t give a second thought to the event, but now, after so many years, the proximity of the “birthday” was moving him and he was longing for the son he never had. He felt sorrow for never having thought about it, and asked me if there was something that he could do. I asked what he would like to do. He said: “I regret that I never talked to my son; I want to talk to him.” He said that his wife, the mother, didn’t want to do anything about it, not even to be together. “I also want to pray, but I don’t know how.” I asked if he wanted me or other people to go with him to do a ritual. He said, “No, I want to do this by myself, just me and him; to have a time together that we never had.” I translated to Portuguese a text from Rabbi Naomi Levy and sent it to him, just as an inspiration, and said that he could use the words that fit his emotions better.
I met him a couple of months after, and he told me that he had gone to the cemetery, lit candles, he and his son “talked” and he prayed, and that it has been really meaningful to him, and from then on his son was part of his life again.
We hugged and stayed in silence for a while. I never asked for more details; he never told.
Download the text below by Rabbi Naomi Levy, translated to Portuguese.