Tefillah, prayer, also became part of their lives. My husband introduced them to the sacred words our ancestors whispered to G-d – words that throughout the ages kept us connected to our Heavenly Father.
My husband also taught Avraham how to put on tefillin and explained that they are our unique “transmitters,” linking our hearts and minds to G-d.
As for the third aspect of the formula, that was easy enough. Tzedakah, charity, has become very much a part of our American Jewish life.
Throughout this time my husband was very careful to remind Arthur and Lisa that while the threefold formula of teshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah are the very best way to reach G-d, we must bear in mind that we have no guarantees. While we can pray, supplicate and beseech the Almighty, we cannot dictate to Him. We cannot tell Him what to do.
There are times when, despite everything, G-d responds with a “no” and we accept His decision with equanimity, faith and love. Our belief in His goodness and mercy is never diminished. We realize that finite beings cannot comprehend His ways. No matter how dense the darkness, we cling to our G-d, asking Him to hold our hands and help us see the light
My husband always made a point of explaining this to newly involved Jews to prevent disillusionment and disappointment that could cause loss of faith and abandonment of Torah. Time and again we would emphasize that we are G-d’s children, His servants, His subjects. We can plead but never dictate; we can pray but never demand. Humbly we stand before His presence and proclaim His praise.
No matter what befalls us – whether we are in Auschwitz or Jerusalem, illness or health, wealth or poverty – our faith in G-d remains immutable. We are Jews and we go forth on our journey in life with His Holy Name emblazoned on our hearts.
It is with these words and these thoughts that my husband and I tried to prepare Avraham and Leah for the pain and uncertainty they would have to deal with at Sloan Kettering.
(To be Continued)