web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


A Life Not With Standing

book-life-standing

Chava Willig Levy announces the themes of her memoir, A Life Not With Standing, on the dedication page:

“More important than a life not with standing is an upstanding life”  and “Where there’s a Willig, there’s a way.”

The first theme encapsulates her approach: while using a wheelchair or a scooter, she chooses to live an upstanding, outstanding life.

The second theme reveals how she accomplishes so much; her will power is stronger than any obstacle she faces. Her education, her professional accomplishments, her marriage and her family are proof of the axiom in the Zohar:  “Ein l’kha davar ha’omeid bi’f’nei ha’ratzon” – nothing stands against the will.

Determination is now being studied by educators and psychologists who want to understand why some people born with every gift do not achieve a meaningful adulthood, while others born into a challenging existence rise above their beginnings to enjoy accomplished lives.

The essential quality is called “grit,” and Sonia  Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World, is being held up as an example. This justice of the Supreme Court began life in a poor Puerto Rican family in a rundown neighborhood in the Bronx; she found out in elementary school that she had juvenile diabetes. Because of complications in her parents’ lives, she had to inject herself with insulin every morning. Despite these and other difficulties she went on to Princeton, Yale Law School, and a distinguished career as a judge.

Ms. Levy’s memoir can stand beside Judge Sotomayor’s as a sparkling example of grit. She was attacked at the age of three by an insidious enemy, polio, that turned a lively little girl into a patient in hospitals who had to endure one surgery and procedure after another. But she vanquished that enemy. Although she suffered pain and, at times, isolation, Chava Willig determined that she was going to enjoy a full life: after years of education in separate classes in public high school, a bachelor’s degree from Stern College; a year of study in Israel; a master’s degree; fluency in Hebrew and French; professional accomplishment; the warmth of family and friends; joy in music and singing. She achieved goals beyond all of these:  marriage and the creation of a beautiful family.

Sotomayor rues the fact that she never had children, but reasons that she might have passed on the gene for juvenile diabetes. Chava and her husband, Rabbi Michael Levy, had no such fears; the virus that attacked her body and the blindness that attacked his vision were both terrible intrusions on the lives of little children. They choose to understand  that they  were destined to come together. They expressed this understanding with the outline of a sailboat on their wedding invitation; on the cover of this book is a boat with a mast, ready for sails.

The idea behind both is from the Yom Kippur prayer “Like the helm in the hand of the sailor…So are we in Your hand, Good and forgiving God.”

The theme song for the Levys’ life might be the one based on an Aramaic word:  “a’de’rabba,” on the contrary.  With her love of playing on words, Ms. Levy has incorporated that idea in her title: “notwithstanding” as one word means “in spite of the fact that.” She writes with such wit and humor that  I found myself smiling as I read.  Her account of how a snub years earlier by an usher at Binyanei Ha’Umah is reversed in a wonderful moment  during her second date with Michael is a brilliant insight into taking the long view (like the giraffe in that episode).  I have re-read Chapter 18 several times  to enjoy the flow of the story and to think about Divine supervision of our lives.

Ms. Levy has a website for her book, www.a-life-not-with-standing.com, and another for her lectures and workshops, www.chavawilliglevy.com.

I trust that never again will a child be excluded from a yeshiva because of a wheelchair.

About the Author: Dr. Rivkah Blau is the author of “Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah,” a biography of Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz; the Hebrew translation is entitled “V’Samachta B’Chayekha."


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Life Not With Standing”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 at Lausanne are likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Iran Likely to Force Obama to Back Down on ‘Deadline Threat’
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

While we are all accustomed to the occasional recipe substitutions – swapping milk for creamer, applesauce for oil – gluten-free cooking is a whole different ballgame.

Something-Cooking-logo

Until the year I decided to put a stop to all my tremors. I realized that if I wanted my family to experience Pesach and its preparations as uplifting and fulfilling, I’d have to relax and loosen up.

Teens-032715

David looked up. “Hatzlacha, Dina,” he smiled. “I hope everything goes well.”

In 1756, when the ominous threat of Islamic terror against Jews reached Tunis as well, Friha became one of its tragic victims.

Are we allowed to lie for shalom bayis? It would seem so, but what might be a healthy guideline for when it’s okay and when it’s not?

The connection between what I experienced as a high school teenager and the adult I am today did not come easy to me.

Isn’t therapy about being yourself; aren’t there different ways for people to communicate with each other?

Jack was awarded a blue and gold first-place trophy, appropriately topped off with a golden bee.

Participating in ManiCures during the school day may feel like a break from learning, but the intended message to the students was loud and clear. Learning and chesed come in all forms, and can be fun.

Building campaign chairman Jack Gluck has led the effort over many years.

When using an extension cord always make sure to use the correct rated extension cord.

There was no question that when Mrs. Cohen entered the room to meet the teacher she was hostile from the outset.

Szold was among the founders and leaders (she served on its executive committee) of Ichud (“Unity”), a political group that campaigned against the creation of an independent, sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.

My friend is a strong and capable Jewish woman, but she acted with a passivity that seemed out of character.

More Articles from Dr. Rivkah Blau
Rav Yosef Rosen, the Rogatchover Gaon

His phenomenal memory encompassed the Written Torah, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, and all the major commentaries.

book-diversity-divine

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

Of course it is disingenuous to tell a person from a non-rabbinic, non-rosh yeshiva home to make an effort.

When I give this book, the parents look at the gold Caldecott Medal on the front cover and smile, but look up quizzically – a book for a newborn?

Determination is now being studied by educators and psychologists who want to understand why some people born with every gift do not achieve a meaningful adulthood, while others born into a challenging existence rise above their beginnings to enjoy accomplished lives.

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn’t realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah.

“Radical,” from the Latin word for “root,” means going to the foundation. The foundation is what we have to think about when celebrating a simcha. Instead of peripheral concerns – photographing the proceedings, for example – we should attend to the meaning of the event.

You can tell Rabbi Yossy Goldman’s book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading by its covers. The front cover is a photograph of a rabbi in a shul that is full of light.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/a-life-not-with-standing/2014/01/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: