I Don't Have Any Answers
Reading an recent editorial entitled "For a kinder, gentler Judaism " made me think about a sensitive halachic issue at the shul where I daven. In her editorial, Linda Maurice wrote, "My 100-year-old observant grandmother did not go to shul on the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year. She did go on the second day. The reason for her absence the first day was not due to illness, but because her Orthodox rabbi did not want her to attend if she had to arrive in a wheelchair."
Linda Maurice's grandmother instantly made me think of "Shalom", a middle-aged paraplegic man who davens at my shul. Each Shabbos, Shalom's non-Jewish nurse drives him to shul and he makes his way inside with the help of his electric wheelchair.
I realize that this immediately raises many halachic problems since it involves violation of Shabbos prohibitions, and that Orthodox rabbis would counsel him to refrain from doing this. I also realize that Hilchos Shabbos will never be revised to make an exception for cases such as Shalom.
Despite all of this, in my heart of hearts I truly empathize with Shalom's situation. I will never even begin to understand the difficulties he faces in his life.
I will never know the specific reason why Hashem chose to send Shalom's neshoma down into this world and what his mission is. Does Hashem prefer that Shalom stay at home and not be in his electric wheelchair during Shabbos, or does Hashem understand Shalom's motivations for wanting to daven with a minyan on Shabbos even though it involves breaking Shabbos?
I am not even going to pretend that I am on such a lofty level that I could even give Shalom rebuke.
I don't have any answers; only questions.