Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Contemplating the Nature of Bracha

I spent this past Shabbos in Upstate NY. Nothing too unusual there, but, this time it was not because of an NCSY Shabbaton. Rather, I spent a Shabbat at "home". I can't remember the last time I did this. My family never really did Shabbos together, at least not with any consistency, and certainly not with any care toward Halachic (Jewish Law) practice or family experience, we certainly never sang.

But a lot has changed since my tumultuous childhood, and life has a funny way of coming around. So this past Shabbat I found myself in my childhood home, with two of my younger siblings (one of my sisters is in Israel for the year), and my father, having Shabbos meals with conversation and even zmirot (songs). The meals were meager (Deli for Dinner, Lox for Lunch), but the Tikkun (Reparation/Healing) was tremendous. This is what brings me to my discussion, the nature of Brachot (Blessings).

For those who've been following this blog at all, you'll already be aware of two key realities. First, My father is in need of a Heart transplant, and his health is less then steallar. Second, My family was anything but stable, and until recent times I'd had virtually no relationship with my parents at all, often not even knowing their whereabouts. The question I toy with is whether or not the first is somehow an answer to the second, a Bracha coming from G-d in a manner least expected and most bittersweet.

I've posted before about how I view my current presence in America, a result of Aliyah (moving to Israel) falling through, as a Bracha in disguise because it allowed me to be in America for my father and the rest of my family during a time of need. Yet now I wonder if that feeling of self sacrifise is not short sighted. Maybe it has less to do with my ability to be here for him, and more to do with us being here for each other. Could this be the divinely mandated method through which a relationship long torn asunder can finally be repaired?

This is but a component of a larger question. Can suffering be considered a Bracha? Even blessed with hindsight can one ever say that suffering was the only solution, or even valuable given the justification of the means towards the ends. How does one weigh the benefit of regaining a loved one, a father, a friend, versus the cost of human suffering, sickness, and confrontation with mortality. Can I be thankful for this set of circumstances which allowed Tikkun, or must I compartmentalize, thankful for the renewed relationship, but mournful over the set of events through which it transpired. If we are to give thanks to Hashem (G-d) for the blessings he bestows on us, where do we draw that line?

Alas, I have no answer. Certainly there are growing pains as my relationship with my father slowly regenerates, but overall, I am ultimately thankful to have had the opportunity to rebuild it. At the same time I suffer with my father because of his health and seemingly endless wait, fearful that, G-d forbid, he may be snatched from me just as I'm starting to draw close again. In the meantime I pray.

Thanks to everyone who continues to Daven (Pray) on behalf of my father. His name again is: Baruch Matan HaLevi ben Miriam Sarah. May Hashem grant him with Nachama (Comfort), Refuah (Healing), and Koach (Fortitude). And may we all be blessed to see the blessing G-d bestows upon us every day through his own special ways.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I see Paris, But not in France, Now does Israel even have a Chance?

Just what Israel Needs...
Paris plans on giving Jerusalem their own mini Eiffel Tower.
Source for Story:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back after a long absence...

Well... Some of you may have noticed that it's been some time since my last post. This can in part be explained by a chain of events. Namely: Chagim (Holidays) computer blow-up (after 6.5 years the thing started sparking and smoking...) and finally, internet problems (aka, no wireless card in the new computer).

But I'm back. Not that I'll be posting very frequently, but I do want to keep the many who are praying on behalf of my father informed.

Anyway, here's the latest:

He just got back out of the hospital. This time he had to have his liver biopsied. They went in through one of the arteries in his neck. From what I understand they had to do this because of some possibly not so good results that came back from some of his blood work. Before they can do any actual transplant they need to be sure the rest of his body is in top shape. We now have to wait on the results of this biopsy to find out if he'll remain on the transplant list.

We're also still waiting on the LVAD surgery. They need to get his weight down before they can do it, and that means he needs to start a diet and exercise regimen which he can't really begin until after he recuperates from all the various minor probing surgeries they keep doing. So it seems it could be a while still before we can really start moving forward. Even though there are risks in waiting, it would seem that the doctors have evaluated and come to the conclusion that the risks are greater in not waiting. So once again we wait. This is probably the hardest part for him. All he wants to do is get back to work, to become independent again. Instead he needs increasingly more care and attention.

To make matters worse it would seem that his health insurance through his old job seems to be expiring shortly. He needs to start making payments on his own soon, which he can't really afford, in part because there is a legal freeze on his assets courtesy of court decisions having to do with child support payments between him and my mother. Lifting that freeze is also proving challenging, and while I doubt my mothers intention was to prevent him from receiving medical care, it would seem that may be the end effect.

It's tough to watch, but there's still hope yet. I thank all of you who are still praying on my fathers behalf. We've actually updated his name, not as an attempt to change his mazel toward refuah (a tradition that by changing the name one can change his luck - a step we may take later I suppose), but rather as a result of increased information. (We didn't know his mother had a middle name.)

The name for the sake of Teffilah (Prayer) is: Baruch Matan HaLevi ben Miriam Sarah
May G-d grant him with the care that he needs, and a complete and total return to health, and may he do so speedily.