Glikl bas Judah Leib (Gluckel of Hameln)

My daughter Mata was now in her third year, and never was there a lovelier and more charming child. Not only we but everyone who lay eyes on her or heard her prattle, delighted in the mite. But the Lord delighted in her more, and as she entered her third year, her hands and feet swelled of a sudden. Although we employed doctors and physicking of all sorts, still it pleased the good Lord, after the child had suffered four weeks in pain, to recall His share unto Himself and leave ours lying before us, to the breaking of our hearts.

My husband and I grieved beyond all telling, and I greatly fear I sinned in this before the Lord, and brought on myself a heavier punishment than, alas, I already deserved. Both of us mourned so bitterly that for a long while we lay grievously ill; and so we had our great sorrow.

I now became expectant with my daughter Hannah and was brought to bed. Because of my grief for my dear departed child, with whose loss I could not be reconciled, I fell dangerously ill. I continued stricken throughout the time I lay in childbed, and the doctors, doubting of my recovery, wanted to bring desperate measures into play.

When they proposed these measures and explained them to my people, little thinking I knew or understood what they said, I told my husband and my mother I would not submit to them. Whereat they informed the doctors of my decision, and although the physicians meant well and did their best to persuade me, all their talk proved useless and I said to them, “Talk as much as you please, I’ll take no more of your physicking. If the dear Lord minds to help me, He can do very well without medicines. If not, what good are all the medicines in the world?” In sum, I begged my husband discharge and pay the doctors, one and all. And so he did.

God gave me, then, the strength I needed, and in five weeks after I came to bed, though still miserable, I was able to go to synagogue. And I praised and thanked my God for all He had done. Each day I grew a little better, and finally I dismissed my attendant and wet-nurse and with the help of the Most High resumed my household duties, and in the end managed to forget the loss of my dear child, as God meant it.

Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln (1646-1724), excerpts.

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