Director Emergency Services, Maayanei HaYehusa Hospital,
Lessons to be learned about human stamina. "Who is a brave
A different kind of a winner...
Close your eyes and remember the Summer of '76. Warm, humid
air surrounds my body for a second as I begin to dive into
the lake at summer camp. Few people in camp can swim to the
dam and back, but I am one of them. Today I am out to set an
unprecedented world's record: I am going to swim to the dam
and back twice without stopping. This, after skipping
breakfast, playing hard for two hours on the courts and
running my usual mile and a half. I succeed, I feel great.
True, until now, no one knew of this tremendous feat, but
that is immaterial to a sixteen-year-old. I pushed my limits
and came out a winner -- that is the celebration of
Scenes change. I am 27 years old. I worked hard in
kollel that zman. I treat myself to a trip up
to Canada and the northern USA. Our challenge today is
Katahdin, at 5240 feet, the tallest mountain in all of the
state of Maine. Having hiked up many mountains of similar
height, this didn't seem to present much difficulty. We
choose the Abol trail -- it is the shortest route. Signing
in at the empty ranger cabin, there is a sign reporting 5
deaths on the Abol trail this year from hikers who strayed
from the trail. We aren't crazy; we'll stay on the trail. We
start walking, despite the coolness of the morning, and the
fog that encompasses the mountain. In this weather, water
won't be necessary. It isn't unusual for Maine to have
summer days where the temperature doesn't rise about 10
The trail starts up a rock face requiring some rock
climbing. No big deal. But then it turns into a big deal.
There is no trail up in the fog, there is no more hiking --
this is rock climbing, up 100, 200, 1000 feet. But I'm
young. There are no limitations. There is no turning back.
We forge on. Rocks fall, I break my toe. But we make it up.
At the top is a windswept plateau. Due to the fog, this
difficult climb is rewarded with no pretty view. We start
down. Not down Abol -- we aren't crazy. We take the "Knife's
Edge" trail instead. The sun breaks up the clouds. No water.
Our throats are burning. More rocks; you have to lower
yourself on your back, steady yourself on ropes. We make it.
It feels great. We pushed beyond limitations and came out
Scenes change. It's Chol Hamoed Pesach 5760 and we arrive at
our trailhead in the Golan. Wow, is the air different here
from Bnei Brak -- fresh and invigorating. We gain elevation
above the gorge, but I notice that we are above the treeline
-- the vegetation is wild oats and wheat. The trail narrow.
If one slips, there are no branches to hold on to, only a
long fall into the canyon. I turn around to look at my three
boys and the other family with us.
"We're turning around." Some quiet sighs but in essence,
they know I'm right.
Pushing limitations feels great. It also kills. We come
down. I've learned a hard lesson, but thank G-d, not the
hard way. This time I am a different kind of a winner.
The applause died down after the flattering introduction by
the man in the long black robe and flat hat with a tassel. A
sea of men in top hats, spectacles and handlebar mustaches
sat on leather padded antique chairs, patiently awaiting his
speech. He strode up to the lectern to a hushed crowd, and
nervously cleared his throat. Almost as one, the men bent
forward in anticipation. But though there would not be any
stories of high country heroism; there would be no words of
wisdom to direct their lives. Deep in his heart, he knew
things had changed. And he felt it his duty to make this
"Gentlemen," he started, pausing to observe the crowd.
"Gentlemen," he repeated more confidently, "I have turned
With that, he stepped down from the stage and returned to
his place to enjoy the rest of the evening's festivities.