By the time you read this, if things go as planned, I will have had spine surgery.
I would appreciate your prayers. My name is Yisroel ben Malka.
Jews pray for good health by using their mother’s name. Mothers are filled with compassion for their children. Did we not just read in last week’s Haftara, “Can a woman forget her nursling [or] withdraw from feeling compassion for the child of her womb?” (Yeshiah 49:15)
A child feels the mother’s unconditional love. She carried us and gave birth to us. We were formed within her. My mother’s Hebrew name is “Malka.” When we became observant, my mother saw how good it was, and that was when we gave her a Hebrew name. She was a spiritual person, but until we opened the Torah, she did not know how to fulfill her spiritual yearnings. Through us, she made a connection with the Torah. Shortly after she died, she appeared in a dream to our daughter Miriam Basya; her face was radiant and happy.
Everything we do is directed from Heaven.
My surgery was scheduled for the 27th day of the Month of Menachem Av, Thursday, August 5. The previous week, on Wednesday, I was reading the Psalm for that day, and the following words jumped out at me: “Im amarti … if I said, my foot falters, Your kindness, Hashem supported me….” (Tehillim 94).
My friends, it happens that I needed this surgery exactly because my foot was faltering!
My legs have been growing shakier over the years because of a narrowing of the spinal canal (known as “stenosis”). The surgery was for that exact condition. And the Psalm we say on Yom Revii, Wednesday (the day before the surgery) reflects exactly the condition for which I needed surgery. I want to believe that Hashem was telling me that He will be with me during this surgery. I am dedicating my health to serving Him. In order to do that, I need to be in optimum health.
Every aspect of our lives is directly controlled from Above. “Everything is in the hands of heaven except fear of heaven.” (Berachos 33b) Our job is to work on fear of heaven.
As we enter the Month of Elul, the Season of Teshuva, it behooves us make a spiritual accounting. Lately I have been thinking, and this is so fascinating …
We are now reading Sefer Devarim, in which Moshe Rabbeinu recounts our history, reminding us that the Children of Israel were participants in the greatest miracles in history: the liberation from Egypt, the splitting of the Sea and the revelation at Mount Sinai.
And then what?
Time and again they complained against Moshe Rabbeinu, against the Torah, against Hashem Himself! In Moshe Rabbeinu’s words, “You rebelled against the word of Hashem!” (Dvarim 1:26)
How can we understand this? How is it possible that our ancestors failed to tremble with constant awe and love for Hashem for the unique goodness displayed to them on a constant basis, every second without end?
Well, my friends, I found out something amazing.
There is a famous phrase: “Maase avos siman l’banim … the actions of the fathers are signs for the children.” The entire Torah is a sign for us, the children of these remarkable ancestors. The Torah is – not only about yesterday – but about today … and tomorrow! Our lives reflect the lives of our ancestors.
This book tells about us!
I am doing exactly the same as our ancestors! OY! I am so at fault!
I kvetch and complain!
My life is filled with spiritual and physical blessings. Hashem is constantly giving me everything I need. And, frankly – I am not exaggerating – I see that I am constantly complaining. This hurts and that hurts. I am hungry! I get grouchy when I don’t have the food I want when I want it. I am tired. I am annoyed. I am achy. I don’t feel like doing this mitzvah or that mitzvah. I am angry at someone. I am worried about money. I am pressured by time.
Every day we say “Modim … thank You” to Hashem, but do we appreciate Him?
I know that I personally fail to appreciate the wondrous, unlimited shower of blessings which is continually falling down from Heaven! Don’t we say, “Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who nourishes the entire world in His goodness, with grace, with kindness and with mercy. … His kindness is eternal….” (Birkas Hamazon/Bentching)
Even our “troubles” are brachas. Everything is for our good. Everything that happens in our lives, we need.
The Torah says in last week’s Parsha, “You shall remember the entire road on which Hashem ... led you these forty years in the Wilderness so as to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would observe His commandments or not. He afflicted you and let you hunger; then He fed you the manna that you did not know … in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, [but] rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of G-d does man live.” (Dvarim 8:2)
Yisroel Neuberger! Stop kvetching!
Birkas ha Mazon: The prayer we say after eating
Sefer Devarim: The Last Book of the Five Books of
Moses, called in English “Deuteronomy”
Shacharis: The Morning Prayers
Shomayim: The Next World
Yom Revii: The Fourth Day of the week, Wednesday