Title: Soul to Soul – Writings from Dark Places
Author: Deborah Masel
Reviewed by Yocheved Golani
Every medical school in the world should have this book on the syllabus: once during first-year medical studies and again at residency. Pages 63-67 pretty much sum up the brutality of a given medical staff member’s offhand remarks and intentional insensitivity in the presence of patients. They crush the spirits of otherwise valiant people struggling to live. Med students who assume superiority to their needy patients need not have airs. They’re not G-d and not about to become His rival, either. Medical interventions have limits. And condescension kills people as much as disease can.
Deborah Masel’s account of her years-long battle with metastatic breast cancer is a nightmare many women in industrialized countries fear. An experienced writer before she authored Soul to Soul, Masel’s prose is without pretense, raw and human. The 184-page paperback describes the suspense, fear and lack of control over the intimate details of a woman whose life is complicated by breast cancer that spread throughout her body. The light shining from this story is in the lessons that the author learned from the Aish Kodesh by the rebbe of Piacezna.
Aish Kodesh is the soul-searching spiritual survival effort to persevere as an emunah-oriented Jew that was written during the Shoah. Its overriding lesson is to believe – while we shudder – that G-d, despite fearsome facts and logic, is beyond any boundaries and above all nature. That G-d will save us is a given in Torah life and in Aish Kodesh. How He will do so is another matter altogether. We as Jews must allow the possible to happen, not reject outcomes that do not match our fantasies.
Masel tells us on page 170 that she clung to G-d despite the chaotic world of her treatments, pain and emotional vicissitudes. She learned from the rebbe of Piacezna that “G-d is right there with me in the foxhole … the longer I stayed with him, the more this [emotional vicissitudes] barrier dissolved.”
Devorah Masel died shortly after her book was released. Hear her plea in chapter one: “Please don’t stop reading. I know it’s scary. I’m scared too. Once I too would have closed the book. I wouldn’t want to know about it. Life’s scary enough, I’d say, without this. But now I’m stuck with it and I’m asking you not to shut me out.”
Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge” (http://booklocker.com/books/3067.html).