On Sickness

I’ve been having trouble lately getting a lot out of my prayers.  I’m not fully desensitized though.  Ambulances have been passing by more frequently these days, and, like the call of the shofar, the alarm blast shocks me into realizing that life can change at any moment and that I should be thankful for all that I can do and all that is before me right now.  Thank Gd, I am well.

Then, sometimes things penetrate a bit deeper.  Suddenly this afternoon, my stomach began hurting.  Okay, I ate few too many dates.  It was an intensely syrupy sugary snack (the mejool dates in Israel are בלתי רגיל, abnormally good), but this felt unusual.  Soon the stomach pain turned to nausea, and then I threw up more times that I ever have in a single day.  I was paralyzed by discomfort.

After that experience, I think that I will pray for a רפואה שלמה “refuah shelemah” or “complete recovery” for other with improved intention tomorrow morning.

I am grateful that I was able to get the writing work that I intended to do out of the way just before falling ill.  The only thing I’ve been able to do until now is to watch a movie.  Forced to chill out and reassess.  Suddenly, all the important things in life come to the forefront.  Basic human functions, physical self-preservation, spiritual questioning of what I am supposed to learn from the experience, recognizing who my friends and family really are.

The gateway to prayer, the beginning set of morning blessings, include a list of things to thank Gd for.  One is ’שעשה לי כל צרכי’ “who provided for my every need.”  Some interpretations say this is a reference to shoes, or leather shoes in particular.  Today the connotation may be different.  Even when I’m wearing Crocs or padding around in my socks on the Jerusalem tile floor, I feel provided for (Jewish law requires praying with shoes on).

Each time that I am sick or visit the sick is an opportunity to recognize the attributes Gd gives to each individual.  I am grateful to be living a healthy, independent life, with great friends and family just a GChat away.


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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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