What You Can’t See in Our Family Picture

May 6, 2016


Pictures don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth either. They just capture a moment, no, a split-second, in time. Our family recently captured a split-second when Zev and I, plus every child, in-law child, and grandchild, lived together in our house during Pesach. But the picture doesn’t show my mind uttering, “thank you, G-d” and “thank you, Rebbe” in a continuous loop as the photographer snapped away. You can’t see all that went into this journey that began almost thirty years ago, when our lives changed course from self-directed to G-d-directed. But at least you can see the most profound reflection of this changed course: the children we were blessed to bring into the world as a result. That our six married children also choose to live a G-d directed life, and have been blessed to bring children into the world to live the same way, is a G-d “moment” not to be missed. Even if you can’t see it.

Of course, none of us can see G-d, but He’s definitely in our picture. Because nowhere did I ask for more of Him than with these children, begging Him for every one, especially the later ones, ones I wanted so much for reasons I didn’t even try to understand. Only G-d could give me the temerity (okay, chutzpah) to step into my womanly role as the akeres habayit, the foundation of the Jewish home. Only for Him would I try to become a Mother Jew, somehow sure the Rebbe’s teachings could show me how. And, if by chance along the way, I had any doubts about whether or not this G-d-Torah-Rebbe package was the Truth, I wouldn’t let them derail me. (You can’t see these doubts either, but now I can tell you, I had them, especially at times when my mother would challenge me: if it’s so wonderful, why don’t more people do it?)  Instead, I stayed focused on the Chabad families around us that had become dynasties; they also started with two people who stayed firm in their commitment. I could do that, doubt or no doubt. Call me a spoiled little Jewish girl, but I wasn’t afraid to ask Him endlessly for what I wanted: a big family.

Part of my reason for wanting this was simple economics. We had the strollers, we had the high chairs. The carpets were already stained. The variable costs of having another child were minimal compared to the overt miracle G-d would be providing. How could I not want more? Our kids wanted a big family, too. Mordy, our oldest son, once questioned why people who have one million dollars want two million dollars, but they don’t want more “priceless” children. I remember walking through Yad Vashem when our youngest son Sholom was around three, and all I could do was ask G-d for another child. What better way to exact revenge on those who tried to exterminate us?

Trust me, there were plenty of times when I wished I didn’t want them so badly, especially because there’s only so much you can do to have a baby. Maybe that’s what I relished about the whole process, that I so clearly depended on G-d’s kindness. I never wanted to be “done.” During the years when our family size kept growing, people often asked how many kids we wanted. Zev used to answer jokingly, “we always thought fourteen would be nice.” I always wanted to say, “as many as G-d gives us. Plus one.”

The reasons for everyone’s family size are very personal, I know that. And I’m not trying to suggest to anyone else what to do (unless you happen to be one of my children). I’m just grateful to G-d that He gave me the big family that I prayed for, that I still pray for. Continuously. Even if you can’t see it in the picture.






  1. Reply

    Shoshi Thaler

    Beautiful! May you continue to see much Nachas from them all!

    1. Reply


      Amen v’amen, Shoshi…to you too, with Moshiach NOW!

  2. Reply

    Judy Wein

    G-d has answered your prayers not only in numbers but by helping you to create loving warm people into this world.

    1. Reply


      I certainly couldn’t have done any of it without Him! May He answer all of our prayers and send Moshiach NOW!

  3. Reply

    Chana Perelman

    Exquisitely expressed. Thanks so much. May you continue to be blessed in a revealed way.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Amen v’amen! Thanks for writing, Chana…may have true nachas together with Moshiach NOW!

  4. Reply


    I love love this (not a typo:) and always enjoy your blog. thank you

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      So so (also not a typo) glad that you enjoyed this. Thanks, Raizy!

  5. Reply

    helene wishnev

    Beautiful piece and beautiful picture, Lieba – and Mazel Tov on assembling all that NACHES with heads combed and sheitels coifed with smiling faces at one time in one place. No easy feat, I’m sure. May the naches and blessings continue always!

    1. Reply


      Amen v’amen, Helene-Y…with Moshiach NOW!

  6. Reply

    T Firtell

    As usual, smiling ear to ear while I read your blog. Love this one Lieba ♡♡♡

    1. Reply


      Together, we should have nachas together from all of them, T…thanks for commenting!

  7. Reply

    Ellen Roteman

    Photo — and every word: beautiful. May you continue in true joy and gratitude to the One who makes it all possible.

    1. Reply


      Amen v’amen…and you should have nachas from yours, Ellen! (Nice to hear from you, too!)

  8. Reply


    Absolutely beautiful! All the pple in the picture!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      You were there when it all began, Chana…Boruch Hashem!

  9. Reply

    Batya Moses

    Thank you so much for expressing your gratitude in such a public way. Your words are inspiring.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thank you for commenting, Batya. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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