Editors note: The following letter was received by Rabbi
Simon Jacobson after the publication of his book Toward a
"I am a 47-year-old executivevery successful and
accomplished; admired and respected. Yet beneath this fine
veneer lies a woman in shreds. You see, my soul was murdered
as a young child when my parents abused me physically, emotionally,
sexually. Every day of my life is essentially a struggle against
suicide. I feel no self value, actually no self at all. I
am a sum of my parts, and my value is based on how others
value me. I have tried many therapies but essentially have
remained the same. Intimacy doesnt work in my life,
relationships are either unhealthy or nonexistent.
"In order to compensate for this deep void and lack,
what I have done, as do people in this situation, I have become
superambitious and hyperproductive in order to create some
semblance of outer control in place of no inner control. It
helps distract me somewhat and helps get me through the day,
but it doesnt really change anything. Inside I am a
wreck, and every day, sometimes every moment, is another struggle.
"I had long given up hope and resigned myself to this
life of misery. But then a miracle happened. Someone gave
me the book Toward a Meaningful Life as a gift. I am
Jewish but non-observant, and I was glancing through the book
with a measure of skepticism until a line jumped out at me
and struck me like a thunderbolt, like a silver bullet between
"The line said: BIRTH IS G-D SAYING THAT YOU MATTER.
I read it again. BIRTH IS G-D SAYING YOU MATTER.
I read it over and over at least 500 times. And I will continue
to read it every day of my entire life.
"I suddenly realized, after 47 years, that no matter
what my parents told me, no matter how they said I was an
accident and a source of misery in their lives, that no matter
how society tells us that we are just a statistic in someones
balance sheet, that our value is measured in buying power,
productivity, looks, youth, contacts, and moneynone
of matters because I matter to the One who matters most. To
G-d, who created me and said, I want you on this Earth.
I need you.
"The mere fact that I was born, that I exist, regardless
of my mood, my performance level, my looks that day. The mere
fact that I am here is a vote of confidence from G-d that
I am indispensable, absolutely necessary, irreplaceable. No
one can replace me. I matter. I truly matter.
"Do you know how that made me feel? That I have permission
to matter. I am commanded to matter.
"So though I still have many years to heal, now, for
the first time in my life, I have hope. And I know what I
need to do. I need to create bypass surgery to bypass the
infected arteries that my parents gave me when they touched
me, criticized me, hit me, for the first time, and reconnect
to that first, pure, innocent moment of birth, when G-d said
YOU MATTER, you are indispensable.
"So thank you for giving me back my life."