In this week’s parashah we learn of the gravity of hurting the feelings of a widow or an orphan — for the Ribbono shel Olam is the Father of orphans and the Defender of widows.
As the global Jewish community continues to reel from the devastating effects of the pandemic, the number of widows, widowers, orphans, bereaved parents, and others who have suffered heartbreaking losses has dramatically increased.
For some of these families, the 11-month mark is soon approaching, and soon the year of aveilus will come to an end as well. Yet the huge void in their lives and the pain in their hearts is still very much present. Only the Ribbono shel Olam can give them the ultimate consolation with the coming of Moshiach and techiyas hameisim, and only Hashem can give them the chizuk they need to go on with their lives.
However, the community at large, and individual relatives, friends, and neighbors can do much to try to make their plight a bit easier.
Financial security is a vital need for every person. But for a widow and orphans, it is even more vital. For when a widow encounters financial difficulty — which, unfortunately, is frequently the case — she oftentimes thinks, If only my husband were alive…
There are countless additional areas when a caring, non-intrusive offer can make a real difference. Whether it is to take a child to shul, learn with him during avos ubanim, shovel the snow, or offer general assistance, even if the offer is declined, the fact that someone cared enough to call is in itself a great source of chizuk.
Using tact, common sense and respecting other people’s privacy is key to all interpersonal relationships. Some widows find it extremely painful to receive tzedakah mailings signed by people they knew personally — and the envelopes are addressed to their deceased husbands. How much more so when it is an invitation to a simchah from a friend. Carefully looking through a computerized mailing list is only one example of helping to avoid causing unnecessary pain.
Chazal teach us that middah tovah merubah — the measure of reward for good deeds is greater than the measure of punishment for wrongdoing. The Torah informs us of the terrible punishment inflicted on those who hurt widows, orphans and others facing daunting circumstances. We cannot fathom how great is the reward for those who open their hearts to come to their aid and take all possible steps to try to ensure that they are not hurt. Their actions reverberate in the very Heavens and create angels of protection for all of Klal Yisrael.