Forgive me for the delay on this post and forgive me if this is a topic I have already addressed.
The last few days have been a whirlwind. On Monday morning I awoke to find several missed messages and calls from my sister-in-law. While I love her dearly, and am always happy to hear from her, I immediately knew something was wrong.
She was wise enough to start her text with “He is going to be okay…” But the following sentence sent me into a tailspin… “Your Dad had a heart attack.”
I immediately became a trembling, balling child. I was alone… lost and more scared than I have ever been. It was a horrible feeling, made worse because my family is on the East Coast and I am out here in California. I felt helpless.
Never have I wanted to be in New Jersey more. How often do you hear that? Okay, honestly… New Jersey is a phenomenal state and I am so proud that is where I grew up… You all need to go there. Seriously.
In addition to the immediate concern I had for my Dad, and the complete and perhaps sympathetic freak out I was having… one that I could only imagine my Mom was having, too… thoughts of inadequacies filled my brain. All the things I had not done… all the accomplishments my Dad has yet to see… at least career wise… were still off the table…
As soon as I was able to pull myself together, I immediately reached out to my family and friends and loved ones… I needed to alert them as to what was going on.
And then I composed an e-mail.
It went to my “brothers”… the amazing group of guys I went to Israel with a year ago next month. I asked them to say a prayer for my Dad. They did… each and every one. The rabbis… my friends… all of them.
The email responses were immediate… and the calls… and the messages… My brothers!
And while I was not able to hear anyone praying, other than my own voice as I wrapped Tefillin and whispered and asked for healing… I knew the air was being filled with prayers.
This trip to Israel… my first ever… has changed me in ways I was aware of… It has given me a holiness and a calm and a peacefulness I have never had… And it gave me almost 40 new brothers. That is a wonderful, remarkable and mind-blowing thing. Lifelong friends coming into my life as I am 40 plus years into it.
Israel… Judaism has given me prayer and spirituality. And it has also changed me in ways which I was not aware of… some that came out through this crisis… and some I am sure I will discover later on.
Rabbi Denbo says that prayer can actually affect another’s soul. Wow. Sit with that for a minute. Immensely powerful stuff. Extremely and vitally powerful because our prayers matter… our actions matter… our generosity matters.
A very special and heartfelt thanks to Ben, my partner in this non-crime, for sending me this!!!
My dear friend and Rabbi, Shlomo Seidenfeld said (and hopefully I am not overstepping by sharing): “In the merit of your sensitive and generous heart may Hashem repair your father’s heart.
I guess I am not always good at taking compliments… especially because I feel I am so far off the mark career wise… but to know you are a good person, with a good soul, who affects others… to know so many truly love you, and you them… I felt like the richest man on earth. Thank you, Shlomo.
Rabbi Denbo also says: “If people feel the need to pray for an individual, that is a symbol of that person’s merit.”
Two Rabbis… and both using the word merit… A word I had not heard in this context… and yet, I have now heard it twice in the last 72 hours… And it has made a remarkable difference in my attitude and sense of calm and focus. My Father has true and amazing merit… for so many reasons.
There is no coincidence that the word merit is now out there for me. There is Hashem.
Most of my new friends do not know my father… but because they know me… and know my merit… know my heart, they… without hesitation… prayed for my Dad’s heart. A Refuah Shlaima went out into the world. It travelled from California and other states all the way to Jersey. I did not hear their prayers and yet they went straight into my ears and into my heart… And clearly those prayers and thoughts and wishes went into my Dad’s heart. Thank you, my Holy Brothers!!!
My Dad is doing much better and may actually get to go home today. Two stents… a new diet and some rehab in his immediate future… but home.
That is the power of prayer… the power of connection… and it is Judaism… and my embracing of it that is putting all of this into a most potent and important perspective.
As Shlomo says, Judaism will give you the tools before you need them.
I thank Hashem for so much… especially for my family and friends, for the power of love of healing… and the power of prayer.
As I drove on the freeway Monday, when the first bit of good news finally came in, I saw this…
It arched over the freeway like a tunnel… embracing and enveloping me… protecting me… comforting me… giving me hope in the sign of fractured light… a prism of potential and perspective…