“Delighted, the beggar filled his pockets and went on his way. After he departed, the rich man opened his sack and, to his dismay, found it empty. The beggar had taken it all!”
The rich man, I told the nurses, is symbolic of Almighty G-d who created the world and gave mankind six days to labor and pursue his needs; the seventh day He reserved for Himself so that we might hear the silent voice of our souls. But, selfishly, mankind took all seven days. We, however, sanctify the Sabbath by singing songs of praise, by blessing Him and expressing our gratitude.
On the seventh day we not only refrain from active labor, we divorce ourselves from all reminders of this material world – the computer is silenced, the phone, the car, the TV all become non-existent as our souls soar and are recharged by the magic energy that flows from the Heavens above.
The eyes of the nurses became moist. “How beautiful” they said. Their response invigorated me. I started to feel like myself again – able to give, to teach, and do my little share in sanctifying His holy Name. More than ever before, the words of our sages resonated in my heart and mind: “When you give, you become enriched, and the more you give, the more you will have.”
I witnessed a living example of this when my own beloved parents and husband were visited by devastating illness. No matter when I came to the hospital, be it day or night, my father and husband were always involved in helping others. You might wonder what they could possibly have done from their hospital beds, but when your heart is filled with chesed there is no illness, no bed, that can restrain you. My father would ask the nurses to take him to visit other patients. When he could no longer get out of his bed, he would send me to impart his berachah – some kind words, some encouragement and strength.
I remember a nurse who attended to my father’s needs. My father saw pain in her eyes. He felt her burden; he reached out to her. So even as the nurse tended to my father’s physical needs, my father soothed her spiritual wounds.
After my beloved husband underwent two surgeries at Sloan Kettering, I was told by his surgeon that he didn’t have too much time left. “You can go into the recovery room,” he said, “but stay for only a few minutes. He’s in a lot of pain.”
Fighting back my tears, I made my way to his bedside. I took his hand and whispered, “I spoke to the doctor. Baruch Hashem, everything will be okay.”
My husband looked at me and said, “Let’s talk emes. You see that young man,” he said, pointing to a resident. “He’s a good Jewish boy. Find him a shidduch.”
I couldn’t believe what I heard. I felt like crying and laughing at the same time, but then I understood. My husband, who was a tzaddik, knew his days on earth were numbered, so he searched for one more mitzvah in that recovery room – one more mitzvah he could perform before Hashem called him.
Baruch Hashem, my situation was totally different. I was not suffering from a devastating disease or illness. I broke my hip. My pain was excruciating, but it was not life threatening. However, the lessons my saintly father and husband had imparted never left me. Their voices spoke loud and clear. “No matter where life takes you, no matter what befalls you, always remember you are a Jew, charged with a mission to reach out, do your part and help others, and in whatever small way, always try to sanctify the Name of G-d and bring honor to His Name.”
I would like to express my total love and indebtedness to all of my dear, precious readers. Your letters, calls, e-mails and above all your prayers have sustained me and opened the gates of mercy for a refuah sheleimah. Every day is a new challenge. For me, someone used to running, walking with a cane is not easy, but it cannot and shall not inhibit me. As long as the Almighty allows me, I will continue to serve Him and reach out to our people so that we might all bear in mind that awesome day at Mount Sinai when G-d proclaimed those electrifying, eternal words that forever shook the world and is engraved on all our hearts: I AM THE L-RD THY G-D.