Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nisan 5766 - April 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Part III from the autobiography, With All of Me

By Soroh Glaser, author of Lifesaver! The Jewish Homemaker's Survival Kit

When the time comes for me to stand before the Heavenly Tribunal, and I am asked if I was the best Soroh I could have been, I hope I can say, "I never stopped trying."


Suffering has strengthened my connections with other people. It has helped me to understand them better. I can be more compassionate, accepting, or patient, with those who have had, or are undergoing difficult times or have particular limitations.

Suffering helps me redefine my priorities. For example, although material things were never very important to me, now, they are even less so.

Through suffering, I have learned that complacency is the yetzer hora's doing, and so I must not take for granted the many gifts Hashem has given me. Reviewing my Grateful List, which I started when diagnosed with cancer in 1983, is always helpful. It reminds me of how grateful I should be for all His many blessings. My mood changes way before I reach the end of the list.

Knowing that suffering can help atone for my sins makes me grateful and happy. Remembering this at the right time can turn my sadness into joy!

It might be difficult for those who have not had physical suffering to fully understand the joy felt in being able to do what was previously impossible or too difficult, such as breathing without having to gasp for air, or being able to get up or sit down, or being able to turn your body while lying in bed. I don't think someone who has never endured physical suffering can experience to the same degree the elementary functions of living as one who has suffered, the joy, and the same depth of gratitude to Hashem, for the precious gifts that were previously accepted as being a natural part of life.

I am so grateful that, in spite of my transgressions and mistakes, Hashem has not given up on me. Instead, He continues to give me opportunities to grow closer to Him.

No, it has not been, nor is it now, easy to make changes. Sometimes, the emotional or physical pain is almost unbearable. But Hashem never promised it would be easy. Nor should it be.

The Sages say the more suffering, the more effort expended, the greater the benefits, and that suffering helps sanctify a person.

If and when I put forth the effort, no matter how long it takes, or how difficult it is, and regardless of the outcome, then, I have earned the rewards Hashem bestows upon me. I can then respect myself, and truly enjoy what is given me.

I think most, if not all of us, can remember the difference between being given something as a gift, or having to work a long time to save the money to acquire a desired item. We appreciated and took better care of it if we put in our own time and effort to get it. Most important, we felt good about ourselves. As a secular teacher once said to his class, "What you put in is what you will get out," or as some say, "You get what you pay for."

In June, 2003, when my illness prevented me from being able to live alone, I received rabbinical permission to leave Israel to stay with my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren in Boston, Massachusetts.

Boston is the home of the finest medical centers in the world. My experiences with the doctors and their staffs substantiated this opinion. Although my condition did not change, Boruch Hashem, with treatments, it is now stable and I have regained some of my strength and energy.

Not long after I arrived in Boston, another bone marrow biopsy was done. My blood disorder had gotten worse. I was now diagnosed as having myeloid displasia syndrome, a cancer with a survival rate of at most a few years.

I was hospitalized three times within a couple of months. During my second stay, I had congestive heart failure, acute kidney failure, and my blood counts were increasingly worse. Nurses and doctors were hovering around me. I said viduy.

Twice during that hospital visit, while in much agony, I found myself praying that Hashem help me to accept the pain, since it was His will that I have it. Immediately, both times, the pain was gone!

I realized that I was not, as in the past, asking Hashem to take the pain away. Instead, I was asking him to help me nullify my will so I could serve Him. In doing this, I felt that maybe I had climbed a step up on my spiritual ladder. If so, I attribute this to the strengthening of my bitochon.

Nurses would come in during a free bit of time just to say hello, to bring pictures of their children to show me, or to discuss some aspect of their personal lives. They were warm and friendly and seemed to go out of their way to be helpful.

I was surprised by visits from several non-Jewish chaplains who informed me that the nurses told them they had to meet me. The visits were always pleasant and the conversations centered on the importance of having faith in G-d. They seemed to appreciate my sharing some of my beliefs with them, and came more than once to visit.

While in the States, I had the precious opportunity and pleasure of getting to know and bond more with my grandchildren, aged ten, nine and six. I was able to help them with their homework, blow-dry my granddaughter's hair, play games with them, and talk to them about just anything.

I had the strength and time to almost finish this book, which had been put aside for more than ten years because all my time had been devoted to my home-management work.

I met and developed a close relationship with my next-door neighbor. She calls four to five times a week so that we can continue our learning, now that I am no longer in Boston.

Unexpectedly, I influenced my non-Jewish home care attendants who told me that their appreciation and respect for Jews and Judaism has grown because of their observations of my behavior as a religious Jew, and as a result of our conversations, often based on their questions regarding Judaism. They shared with me, some in writing, the assessment that our relationship has had a positive impact on their own lives, and that they miss me.

Most important, my experiences while in the States provided me with opportunities to work on the character traits that need correcting, in strengthening my faith and trust, and hopefully, therefore, in getting closer to making Hashem's will, mine.

I believe all this can be accomplished if I live each day always being aware that I am totally dependent upon Him for everything and anything. If I can succeed in doing this, I will be preventing my greatest enemy, the yetzer hora from being able to convince me to follow my own desires and inclinations, and not to despise the evil elements within myself.

Giving all of me to Hashem, nullifying my will to His, all the time, is my most important goal in life. I pray that He continue to give me the time and strength to continue the struggle.

When the time comes for me to stand before the Heavenly Tribunal, and I am asked if I was the best Soroh I could have been, I hope I can say "I never stopped trying."


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