Category Archives: Thoughts

Stop Wasting Time Trying to Fix the Past


Yesterday I found myself spending a lot of time reviewing old blog posts to see if they moved OK on my latest migration. Posts from a year ago, two years ago…

Afterwards I asked myself – was it worth the effort? Does it really matter if they look good or not? If all their links are OK? If the pictures load correctly and the layout is just right? It’s not like I’m maintaining Wikipedia here, it’s just my blog…

It turns out this question is not just about maintaining a specific blog. It’s about life. Because I spend a lot of time thinking about the past and how I could have done things differently. What things I would change, what I would have done (and not done) differently.

But unlike my blog, I can’t edit my past (or at least I haven’t found where I can change this setting 🤔). And while the thought exercise may be interesting, it must be handled with care.

What I know I can do is make the best of the present, and work to create a better future.

As Pumba said, “you got to put your behind in your past”.

Letters to God – Part 29: Failed?


Forgive me G-d, but I have failed.

There is a sentence that religious teachers say: “G-d does not submit someone to a test that he cannot pass” (forgive my horrible translation, but that is how I remember it). But I have.

Today once again we go and ask for forgiveness. For everything bad we did this year, asking you to put us in the book of health, of life. But I can’t do it.

It all feels like a game to me. A game where we are the pieces and nobody knows the rules. Some say their rules are THE RULES. And others say their rules are THE RULES. But nobody knows. So why should I follow these rules and not these other rules? And why do I follow any rule at all? Yea, I know, because following my own rules is also following a set of rules, that I have created. And who knows if they are good or bad? And what is good or bad?

It’s too confusing. This is probably why most people just follow the rules. It’s just easier, clearer.


It’s hard to be at the same time on the top of the world – great job, beautiful wife, nice house, car, vacations, etc. – and at the bottom of the world – what will happen tomorrow? Will I have to run to the hospital again? Will something get worse? If a q-bit had a soul, this is probably how it feels. But it’s hard to find one to talk to these days.

It’s been such a long time! Three and a half long and difficult years.

Wait, but this also means that the test is not over. And maybe, all of this anger, this rebellion, this hatred, all of this is something that I have to accept. That I can only ask for forgiveness only after I myself have done this. That I accept my thoughts, my pain, my questions. That questioning life is OK.


But coming back to the normal world, tomorrow we still celebrate. So to all of you reading my crazy thoughts, I wish you a very happy and joyful new year, full of health and only good and sweet things.

And may you be able to forgive yourselves for everything you think you have done wrong. I know how hard it can be.

Letters to God – Part 28: Celebrate the Good Things


Today I was scolded by one of my friends, because I didn’t write about the good news that we had last week. And she is right! It’s so much easier to delve in the bad news, in the pain, the indecision. Why is this? Why are the positive thoughts drowned so fast by the negative ones?

Anyway, to our point. Live has been really good for the past half year (the last time I wrote was in November, so yes, almost half a year. How time flies), between MRI and MRI we had an awesome trip to Orlando and Miami with many lifelong experiences, my son kept going to school, living life, and in general doing great. The doctors kept on looking inside his head and telling us to start treating, but we decided to wait an give him the best we could (both physically and emotionally).

And last month MRI time came again, and somehow our instincts broke down and we let our brains decide to start treatment. Looking back at this decision, I’m not sure why we took it other than that – breaking under the constant pressure of our doctors (the many different ones that we consult all the time). Not that they are wrong. Nobody is right or wrong here – that is the biggest problem in our case. It’s all a matter of opinion. So with our heads down and our hearts broken, we returned to the weekly chemo schedule.

But you still had a surprise for us…

We always send the MRIs overseas to get a second opinion from one of the world’s experts in the subject, and we did the same this time. But we didn’t wait for him to answer. And after doing the second round, their recommendation came back: Do Not Treat.


Shock. Joy. Confusion. Why do they recommend this? Why didn’t we wait for their answer before starting treatment?

We felt as in the story of Abraham and Isaac. We took our child to the altar, bound him, and were ready to sacrifice him… and then God came and said “OK, no need for you to do this. I see you will do what is needed when needed, so untie your son and continue with your life” [I’m paraphrasing here, obviously].

So we are back to our “normal” life, happy to be back here. And trying to remember every day that we have to celebrate every breath we take, the small things in life, just being alive together. And not taking the good things for granted. Celebrating every day.

Letters to God – Part 26: Yom Kippur Again

Hi God. First of all, a lot of thanks for a relatively uneventful year on the negative side, and a year full of growth in the positive side. Time flies, we are enjoying it as best as we can while at the same time expecting the worse to come tomorrow.

Which brings me to my current issue, Yom Kippur. And atonement. And forgiveness.

We learn that if we pray, fast (which doesn’t bother me so much this year), give charity, etc., you will forgive us for the wrong things we did last year (I even heard that there are scholars who say that regardless of what we do, you’ll forgive us, like an annual reset… Interesting). Yet for thing we did wrong to others you are not the address. We need to ask forgiveness from our fellow humans in order to get heavenly forgiveness. And if someone ask for forgiveness, really meaning it, you must forgive him, otherwise the fault is on you.

And here is my problem. I can’t forgive you God. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t. For the pain my son has suffered, for the psychological weight carried by his sisters, for everything my family has endured. I just can’t. Last year I thought I could. But I was wrong.

And that is just my inner circle. There are so many wrongs happening in the world all the time, so many things that are just… wrong.

So I guess the fault’s on me. So there will be no atonement for me this year.

As we say in Hebrew: Basa…

But hey, since all is already lost, this year I’ll enjoy the day and have an awesome Yom Kippur party!


Just kidding 🙂

Letters to God – Part 25: I am a Rock


I had a hard time growing up. Being the geek of the class may be cooler today (at least they say), but when I was a kid, it wasn’t the most… comfortable experience. But I had my own world, full of dragons and robots, thanks to the books I never stopped reading. My anthem was the song I am a Rock by Simon & Garfunkel:

I am a rock, I am an island. I have my books, and my poetry to protect me

I grew up, had a great time as a teenager, and moved on. I didn’t need an armor, I burned down my walls.

Yet the events of the past years (F**k! more than two years already!) have brought this song again to my life, but from a different angle.

Every day is an unknown. I don’t know who to trust. What is right and what is wrong. What to do and what not to do.

I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries

Letters to God – Part 20: On Death and Life


Today someone died.

That should not surprise us, right God? There are billions of people in the world, millions in my country. Millions of people die every day. Nonetheless, death is something that still bothers us. We fear death. We hate death. But why?

The other day I took some time to think about this. Why don’t we live forever? How would the world look if we never died? The first image that came to my mind is that we would all be sitting in the beach, drinking coconut water and eating fish we took from the sea. All urgent things in life would disappear, because there would always be tomorrow.

But at the same time, this would create great stagnation of the human race. Why? Because if we had infinite time to do things, we would also take infinite time to do them. That is how we are. I don’t meant there would be no inventions, but the process would be much, much slower. I can imagine the typical conversation between two inventors/entrepreneurs in this world: “Jill: Bad news Joe – the test we did today for the itch-scratchy machine failed again. Joe: Bugger. Well, we’ll try again later. No rush, it’s not like we are going to die tomorrow or something like that”.

For some strange inner reason, we all want to change the world. We have a limited number of years, days, hours… And one day, hopefully without previous notice, we die. So we can’t wait for tomorrow, because who knows what will happen tomorrow. We must do things now.

My greatest fear is not death, God. Everything ends when we die. I fear for the living, because these are the ones who suffer when we go. I fear pain. I fear suffering. I fear being lonely.

But I don’t fear death. Because death is what makes me alive.

Letters to God – Part 10: Memories


These weeks are weeks of memories. First with Pesach, where we remember how we left Egypt. Then the Holocaust remembrance day, where we remember the atrocities that happened during WW2, both what was done to the Jewish people, and for all others that perished for nothing during this time. And this week we remember all of the fallen for the creation of Israel, and those that keep dying so that we can keep on living here.

And because my son keeps forgetting, I have been thinking a lot about memories. You know, since “the incident” back in February, my son’s memory is not working “properly”. He remembers everything before that day, but from that day on, things get blurred. Most times he doesn’t remember the name of the rehab center we are at, not to say the name of the people who are treating him each day (but here I have to say that it is also hard for me to remember their names, because there are many of them, so this may be something normal :-)).

As far as I know, the mechanism of how memories are created in our heads, and how they are retrieved when needed, is one great question mark for us. Our brain is a big mass of cells of many types and we have very little knowledge of how they work and interact (there have been many advances, but we are just starting). And as a friend of mine said, it is a very good question if using the brain we will be able to understand it. Similar (for me) to the what Goedel showed in his incompleteness theorem, where every axiomatic system contains statements that can never be either demonstrated or refuted (put in laymen terms).

But going back to memories, there is a very interesting mechanism going on here. From my personal experience, memories are something we create as a mirror of the world we are living in. But not a perfect mirror. We modify our memories to match our dreams, our hopes, our life. I sometimes remember things one way, the way I wanted them to be, but in reality something different happened. Not so different to make for my mind not to accept the changes, but slightly different. And I unconsciously make these changes so that I remember things as I wanted them to be. Because that is how I am wired.

And back to my son, I am not sure how much of his memories are simply being suppressed because they are unpleasant, and how much because of his injuries. In his place, I would also love to forget most of what has happened in the last two and a half months. I also have many memories that I would like to forget. Because they hurt. Because they are unpleasant. But we have no control on what we remember and what we forget. We only get the final results.

And on the other side of the spectrum, there are things that we forget and we would like to remember. Like that first kiss with our loved one, or the day our kids were born (I have vague memories of these… too traumatic I guess :-)). And there are things that we must remember, like leaving Egypt, like the Holocaust, like the fallen for our country. We must remember even though our mind would like to forget.

Good Bye Terry Pratchett

This was really sad news. On the 12th of March, about two weeks ago, one of my heroes died.

I don’t remember how I discovered his books, but the moment I started I couldn’t stop. His writing was hilarious, and also very smart. His stories were completely crazy, but at the same time completely real. Pratchett had such a deep understanding of human behavior, both of the individual, and of a society, that it always impressed me.

It is very sad to see him go. But it seems that life is like that.

Good bye Sir Terry Pratchett. And I hope you managed to avoid the rush.

A Ray of Sunlight

It has been a month (more or less) since we started this new part of our lives. So many things have happened it’s sometimes hard to remember what we did yesterday, what’s the day of the week, which doctor/hospital we visited yesterday. That is why I love to write things. It dumps stuff from my brain and makes it easier to think.

So let’s do a recap and see where I left last time. So we came home and my son was not hospitalized. Yea, that is what I wrote. I’ll start from there.

We came back to the hospital on Sunday (first day of the week in Israel) and were greeted by a nurse whose job description is “child brain tumor coordinator” (just the name hurts). She was incredibly nice, took my wife over and talked to her, and explained what we were going to do in this first day. She explained that we didn’t have to hospitalize the kid (at least not yet), which made us happy since we sleeping in a hospital can be a traumatic experience for both the child and the parents. My son did some blood tests – they took like half his blood, but he did everything like a brave man. They took us in and explained to us what they thought was in our son’s head and that he had to do a spinal MRI to check that there was no dispersion. As our last MRI experience was not so good (recuperation was AWFUL!), we were a bit wary. But the nurse talked to our son and asked him if he would be able to stay still for 20 minutes inside the tube, that she saw he was a big man, and this should not be a problem. He agreed to try.

So we went home and the next day got a call that we had a turn for an MRI the next day at 5 am. That was fast. So we woke up at 3 am, drove to the hospital, and hoped that Hanoch was able to stay still inside the MRI tube… Impressively, he stayed still! Even the radiologist was impressed. What a relief! We went back home to get some sleep, and at 2 pm got another call from the nurse – you have another MRI today at 9 pm. So sleep fast, find someone to take care of the other kids at home, and go again to the hospital. We came back at around 12 pm and fell on our beds.

The next day (or the day after, but time gets somewhat blurred here) we had a meeting with the doctors to hear what they thought we should do. The MRIs came back with some small spread in the lower back, but this was typical of this type of tumor, so no need to get panicked. But we are not completely comfortable with the MRI pictures, they said. While we clearly think this is a tumor of type G, we are not 100% sure and would like to do a biopsy. This is done by opening a hole in your son’s head, inserting a needle, and getting a couple of cells out. And we can do this tomorrow if you want.


Completely shocked, we said we wanted to hear a second opinion, and that we didn’t want to rush if this wasn’t necessary. They said that we didn’t need to rush (so why do the biopsy the next day!?#$%#@). Anyway, the same day, by way of a miracle and some help from the doctors, we went to the best child neurosurgeon there is here in Israel. We got to him the same day in the afternoon. Looking at the MRIs, he agreed that something was not regular in the tumor and that we should do a biopsy. But not a needle biopsy but a full-blown craniotomy – basically open his brain and get as much tissue as we can to better understand what’s in there. A needle biopsy may not be good enough. My wife stopped breathing like for five minutes when he said this. But strangely, this guy made sense, he looked sure of what he was doing… and he has charisma. So funny enough, we thought his idea was good.

But we wanted to get more opinions, so we sent the MRIs flying around the internet to anybody who could help, went to more hospitals here in Israel… And one friend of ours managed to get them into the best children hospital in the world (let’s call it hospital H), where the case was seen by the best team of child neuro-oncologists there is. After some days (cases are analyzed by the team once a week), our friend was told that they didn’t think we needed to do a biopsy. But they never wrote this down and all our emails went unreturned. We kept on writing them, but no answer came back.

And at this stage, the neurosurgeon that proposed the craniotomy changed his thoughts and also said we should do a needle biopsy. We went to see another oncologist and she said we could start treatment without doing a biopsy, or we could do the biopsy. But there was always the risk that the treatment would not match and we would have wasted time.

CONFUSION!!!! Where is the risk management? Did someone compare the risk of a biopsy against the risk of treating for the wrong tumor? After reading many papers, we understood now (once again) that medicine has more unknowns than knowns. And that doctors could not calculate these risks. Each case is special, each surgeon has his own statistics, and there are not enough numbers to do real statistics and probability calculations. This is very hard for two hard-core engineers like my wife and I. So we went with the biggest consensus, and set up a turn for the needle biopsy. But things still didn’t “close” for us, and the opinion from the hospital outside Israel was nudging in the back of our heads.

Time is running out and we have the biopsy next week. On Friday we decided to call the head of the child neuro-oncology department in hospital H… And who would have thought… he called back! After a half-hour talk with him where he explained to us that his team saw the MRIs and that yes, it looks like a “typical” tumor of type G. We see no need to do a biopsy, since we know how to treat them and in the worse case, if after 6 months of treatment nothing happens, then he would recommend a biopsy. And from his experience, in most cases, it is simply the expected kind of tumor, just that it doesn’t respond to regular treatments. And then please call us, he said, because we have already mapped most of the mutations of this tumor, and have very advanced treatments in those cases. But in your case, I would not do a biopsy. And wrote all that in an mail. And he is the biggest expert in the world.

So on Sunday, we ran to the local hospital to show this to the oncologist we want for our kid, and yes, she agreed that we can start treatment without biopsy. No problem canceling the biopsy. Let’s get things running.

Next week they are inserting a Port into my son’s body and will start treatment when he recovers from the operation. Wish us luck.