Inspirational Stories

There is a folder in the library which contains many inspirational stories. Some are personal, some from the Torah and some from various other books. Here are a few of them.


The Sandbox

This is a nice little story that was told to me, sometime after my son Danny died. I cannot remember it fully, but here is my account of it. I hope I do it justice. Cynthia Pollak, Sept 2012

This is the story of a little boy who goes out with his father. The boy sees a sandpit and goes off to play there. He has a wonderful time, playing in the sand, making friends, chatting away, building in the sand, bulldozing his creations – all the fun of a sandpit, with his new friends.

But after a while the father says it’s time to go. The young boy doesn’t want to go. He even puts up a bit of a fuss. Maybe he resents his father for a while. He doesn’t want to leave the sandpit, leave all the fun behind, leave his friends. But his father insists.

Of course, the boy does go with his father, back home. He trusts his father. He knows his father is right, he is his protector, and has the boy’s best interests at heart, and really, he is the boy’s best friend for all time. So too, it is the same when G-d calls his child to go back home - to leave his family and friends here on earth, to leave the fun times, and to go back home to one’s protector, and all-time best friend.


A personal story

By DJ, 2011

I want to share with you a little story…

My husband and I went to Thailand last year, our first holiday since our son died 3 years earlier. We were both pretty traumatized at the start, especially as we had booked into 5 star accommodation – which made it seem all the more wrong to be enjoying ourselves so much. We were TORN with guilt!

After the first week, we moved down south, the accommodation was pathetic, I broke my toe… NOW we started to relax!

Anyway, I brought a present back for Katy. About 9 months earlier, Katy’s son had died, suddenly, of a previously unknown heart condition. And by now we had been in contact for several months.

I invited Katy to meet me for coffee, and as I gave her the present, I told her that after our son died, my husband and I both agreed that there was no way either of us would ever want to give, or receive a present any more – material things are just useless, serve no purpose, wont bring our son back, wont give us any joy. And we didn’t for a while. No birthdays, no mother’s day/father’s day presents. Yet this year, my daughter gave me an Ipad for mother’s day. I have been involved with computers since I was a teenager in the 70’s! I was rapt! And a door was opened…

So I gave Katy this little trinket. And I was delighted to see how genuinely pleased she was that I had thought of her. Then I confided in her my past feelings.

Amid tears from both of us, Katy then told me that yesterday was her birthday, and the day before was her husband’s birthday, and they agreed no presents, and they both spent the 2 days crying. And here she was, genuinely happy to be receiving my gift. And she said it truly did bring back a touch of light into her life.


The Gift

By Cynthia Pollak 2012

In the mid 1990’s, one of my work colleagues and his wife had the first child. Each day Philip kept us up-to-date with baby Gabriel’s progress.

One day Philip didn’t come to work and we were all shocked to hear that baby Gabriel died.

Two months later, the office was filled with Xmas cheer. Philip was back at work, and I had a good working relationship with him, but I didn’t want to upset him by wishing him “season’s greetings” as I was keenly aware of his loss.

But Philip surprised me by giving me a Xmas present! I was taken aback and embarrassed, and explained that I didn’t think he would want to acknowledge Xmas this year, let alone celebrate it, having recently suffered such a loss.

Philip was all the more astounded! “Oh no”, he replied, “We were so blessed this year. G-d gifted Gabriel to us for eight precious months.”

I have tried to have this attitude also. My dear son Danny died in 2008, aged 29. I mourn for him desperately, but I try to focus on the gift we all shared, for those 29 years. I don’t look at his photo and weep, but I look at the many photos of him around my home and smile. I am so very proud and privileged to have had Danny in my life. He was truly a precious gift.


Why Do Some of the Best Die Young?

By Aron Moss – A Chabad Story

A great debate once raged in heaven. It was over a most beautiful and precious new soul that G d had created. The angels debated what should be done with this soul. One group of angels demanded that this soul remain in heaven. "She is too pure, too holy to face the ugliness of the lowly world," they said. "Who knows what will happen to her in a world of temptation and evil. This soul must stay with us here."

But the other group of angels said the exact opposite: "Indeed this soul glows with a unique divine glow. But for that very reason she must go down to earth. For imagine the beauty and goodness this soul can bring to a dark world. What good is there in keeping such a soul in heaven? Let her descend to earth and shine her light there."

And so they argued back and forth, each side unshakable in their view. Until it became clear that they could not resolve the issue themselves, they needed a Higher Authority. The case was brought before G d Almighty. The angels stated their arguments before the heavenly court. G d listened to the two opinions -the first group of angels arguing that this unspoiled soul is too holy to be plunged into the lowly world, the second countering that the world needs such souls more than anything.

And this was G d's response:

"Indeed, it is sad to send such an immaculate soul into such a dark world. But this is My will. I only created darkness so souls like this one can transform darkness into light. The whole purpose of creation was that the lowly world be refined by the good deeds of mortal human beings. This cannot be achieved by souls in heaven. It can only be achieved through souls in bodies. And so even this most perfect and pure soul must descend to earth."

The first group of angels, who requested for the soul to remain in heaven, were disappointed. They couldn't fathom how such a spiritual being could be expected to survive such a physical world. G d turned to them and said, "As for your request to keep this soul up here, I will grant it partially. Though she must leave us and go down to earth, it will not be long before she will return to us. Her sojourn on earth will be brief. Such a brilliant soul will not need long to fulfil her mission. Soon she will be free to come back to heaven."

G-d then turned to the second group and asked, "Are you satisfied with that? Do you accept that this soul can only be on earth for a limited time?"

The angels replied, "Yes we do. Every day that she is on earth is a blessing."

When a loved one passes away, we feel we have lost something precious. We are left with a gaping hole in our heart, and we often wonder why they were taken away from us. But at the same time we can be grateful for the very fact that they were given to us in the first place. We are blessed to have such beautiful souls in our lives. The world is privileged to have such heavenly guests come down on earth. And even if it can only be for a short while, we will take whatever we can get.

In time all souls will be reunited. In the meantime, let us be thankful for the gift of every day.


Life After Death – The Story of Twins

By Maurice Lamm
Author of The Jewish Book in Death and Mourning

An imaginative and telling analogy that conveys the hope and confidence in the afterlife, even though this hope must be refracted through the prism of death, is the tale of twins awaiting birth in the mother’s womb. It was created by a contemporary Israeli rabbi, the late Y. M. Tuckachinsky.

Imagine twins growing peacefully in the warmth of the womb. Their mouths are closed, and they are being fed via the navel. Their lives are serene. The whole world, to these brothers, is the interior of the womb. Who could conceive anything larger, better, more comfortable? They begin to wonder: “We are getting lower and lower. Surely, if it continues, we will exit one day. What will happen after we exit?”

Now the first infant is a believer. He is heir to a religious tradition which tells him that there will be a “new life” after this wet and warm existence of the womb. A strange belief, seemingly without foundation, but one to which he holds fast. The second infant is a skeptic. Mere stories do not deceive him. He believes only in that which can be demonstrated. He is enlightened, and tolerates no idle conjecture. What is not within one’s experience can have no basis in one’s imagination.

Says the faithful brother: “After our ‘death’ here, there will be a new and great world. We will eat through the mouth! We will see great distances, and we will hear through the ears on the sides of our heads. Why, our feet will be straightened! And our heads will be up and free, rather than down and boxed in!”

Replies the skeptic: “Nonsense. You’re straining your imagination again. There is no foundation for this belief. You are looking for something to calm your fear of ‘death.’ There is only this world. There is no world to come!”

Suddenly, the water inside the womb bursts. The womb convulses. Upheaval. Turmoil. Writhing. Everything lets loose. Then a mysterious pounding—a crushing, staccato pounding. Faster, faster, lower, lower. The believing brother exits. Tearing himself from the womb, he falls outward. The second brother shrieks, startled by the “accident” befallen his brother. He bewails and bemoans the tragedy—the death of a perfectly fine fellow.

Why? Why? Why didn’t he take better care? Why did he fall into that terrible abyss?

As he thus laments, he hears a head-splitting cry, and a great tumult from the black abyss, and he trembles: “Oh my! What a horrible end! As I predicted!”

Meanwhile as the skeptic brother mourns, his “dead” brother has been born into the “new” world. The head-splitting cry is a sign of health and vigor, and the tumult is really a chorus of mazel tovs sounded by the waiting family thanking G-d for the birth of a healthy son.

As we separate and “die” from the womb, only to be born to life, so we separate and die from our world, only to be reborn to life eternal. The exit from the womb is the birth of the body. The exit from the body is the birth of the soul. As the womb requires a gestation period of nine months, the world requires a residence of how-ever many years. As the womb is a corridor, an anteroom preparatory to life, so our present existence is a corridor to the world beyond.

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