Sunday, April 30, 2006


T'filat Chana, Hannah's Prayer

It was in Shiloh, my home, where Chana prayed to G-d for a son. Shiloh was the first capital of the Jewish Nation, a period which lasted 369 years, from Joshua to King David.

Ehud Olmert, who apparently will be Israel's next Prime Minister, wants to make Shiloh, the cradle of our nation, where some of the most fateful events in our Ancient History took place, Juden Rein, which means "empty of Jews."

Modern Jews returned to Shiloh almost thirty years ago. We have a vibrant community of over two hundred families, educational institutions and businesses. Ehud Olmert wants to "resettle" us in indefensible ghettos, as if we're chattel, his pawns in a losing game. My neighbors are from all over the world, a wonderful community to live in.

Pilgrims of all religions come to Shiloh to pray, just as the Biblical Chana did.
Read this story:

You might be wondering how I came across this Tefilos Chana card, printed in the very place where Chana davened for her son Shmuel, in Tel Shiloh. (And why I decided to offer it to A Time to be included in their pregnancy loss packet...)

When my first child was stillborn late in pregnancy, I searched for comfort wherever I could find it. The pain was unimaginable. In my haze of exhaustion (physical and emotional), I looked for answers. Why did this happen to me? Where was Hashem (G-d)? Why was my child taken from me? Why was I being punished? But the more I searched, the more I questioned, and the dread grew deeper and deeper. I was suffocating. Nobody understood the depth of my pain. People were hurtful and insensitive. The result: I alienated myself from family and friends.

But one day, I found understanding, in the place I'd least expect it. I found it in Chana. I happened upon a website, called Chana's prayer, where I read briefly about Chana’s struggle with infertility. I related to her. Peninah picked on her. She was so distraught, she had no appetite. Her grief was so real and so human. And in all her sorrow, she could find no solace, so she turned to the only place she could - Hashem. She cried bitter tears, laying the foundation for prayer for future generations. It made me realize how the affect of infertility and pregnancy loss has never changed. Perhaps psychologists have found new ways to classify our grief, or new methods for us to deal with our pain. But if we go back thousands of years, we find Chana, struggling with the same emotions.

The world has changed drastically, yet the reality of this particular loss (be it the loss of the dream of motherhood, or the physical loss of a child in pregnancy) has carried through generations. The next day I went straight to the bookstore and purchased the Book of Shmuel.

I read Chana's prayer, pouring my heart out as Chana had, asking Hashem for comfort. And I found it. Not because the pain was lessened or the loss was any different, but because I realized, there are no answers, but there is always prayer. There is prayer wherever there is Chana.

Chana stands for the 3 Mitzvos of a women. "Chet" for "Challah (baking the holiday bread)", "Nun" for "Niddah (the Jewish Laws of Family Purity)", and "Hey" for "Hadlakot Haneirot (lighting the Sabbath candles)".

Right there, in Chana's name, she shows us the 3 auspicious times for a women to pray. When she takes Challah, when she goes to the Mikvah, and when she lights the Shabbos candles.

The loss of a child, be it early on or late in pregnancy, is something so beyond our understanding. The pain is so real, yet there is little to ease it. When all the hurt, anger, bitterness and despair, fill me - that is precisely when I feel there is no where to turn but Hashem. The loss is beyond the comfort of friends or anything physical. And that's what made me realize, I need to turn to something greater than myself, greater than this world, because that is the only place I can find comfort. No-one, not even our parents, or our spouses, know the pain in our hearts. But Hashem, our creator, knows it all.

And so, with this awakening, I got in touch with a wonderful women, whose family lives in Shiloh, the place where the Mishkan was built and where Chana prayed for Shmuel. She sent me this lovely card, with the words of Chana, and I keep it close to me. When I make Challah, when I go to the Mikvah, and when I light Shabbos candles, I turn to Chana's Prayer, and say it from the depths of my heart.

When I feel like I'm drowning and I have no where to turn, I turned to Chana's Tefillah and I ask Hashem for comfort. And that is why I want to give it to you. Find comfort in Chana's understanding. Find comfort in prayer. Find comfort in Hashem.

For me, Chana's Tefillah bridged the gap of generations, and I imagine myself standing in prayer, just as she did, hoping that Hashem bestow upon me the blessing of children, as He did for her. You may wonder why I felt so connected to Chana. It's the understanding in my mind, the comfort in my soul, but it's more than that. My name, is Chana.

(Please feel free to put my letter in the packet with the Tefillas Chana Card).

Do you have the text to Tefilat Chana?
Melanie, it's in the Bible.
1 Samuel 1:10-12
1 Samuel 2:1-10
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