Letters to God – Part 29: Failed?

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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.

Awgh!

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.

Interesting…

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

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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.

WHAT???

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 27: Miracles Come to Those Who Believe

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It’s that time of the year again. MRI time. The moment all our hopes, dreams, and fears meet in a white hospital room where some very complicated machinery takes a peek into my son’s brain. And as always, we hope for the best but brace ourselves for the worse. We expect a miracle.

Miracles… what a wonderful things. When the universe decides to bend the rules in your favor. Or maybe there are no rules and things just align themselves and something very improbable happens. We simply don’t know.

This time I feel different. Something inside me seems more calm, peaceful, more connected. Somehow releasing myself from the cause -> effect fallacy that I was taught all my life has given me freedom. I am willing to accept the world as it comes. At the same time, I feel more powerful, something inside me that I can’t explain just makes more sense.

I’ve read a lot lately about our inner powers, how our thoughts and feelings have so much power. How what we say has more meaning than just words. It transcends into dimensions that we just don’t understand. Judaism talks a lot about the power of words, and as Pratchett says,  the world runs on Narrativium.

Some time ago a friend of my wife told her that we have to believe. Because only if we believe, but truly believe, then miracles happen. So the miracles are not up to you, they are up to us.

I’m up to the challenge. Let’s do miracles.

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!

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Just kidding 🙂

Letters to God – Part 25: I am a Rock

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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 23: Numb

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Today is Israel’s remembrance day. The day when we all remember the fallen, who fought in our wars, who died in terrorist incidents, who served our country, who gave their lives so that we could live, whose lives were taken to remind every day that the world is a very, very harsh place.

Every year I feel this day, with anger, with sadness. Today I didn’t feel a thing. Nothing.

Because when you are at war, you can’t cry. You have to move on and save the tears for later. And I feel at war. A two year war with an enemy that I can’t fight. An enemy that is unpredictable, that surprises you in the middle of the night. An enemy that nobody really knows how to fight.

So my defenses are always up. I must not break, I must be strong.

But then I understand that sadness is not weakness. That remembering gives strength. That even if the past is dark, the future will be bright. Because we remember.

I remember.

Letters to God – Part 22: Miracles

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A year and a lifetime ago, my son woke up in the middle of the night vomiting and with a crushing headache. Somehow we never imagined this could happen… But as always, life is full of surprises.

Looking back, it feels like ages. Almost 4 weeks in intensive care, 10 more days in the surgical ward, 6-7 months in rehabilitation. And still a long way to go. Or will it ever end? Last week we had to run again to the hospital. Nothing serious, but this week he’ll be back in the operation room…

God, I’m tired.

The book of Shmot (Exodus) tells of great miracles that you did in the past. Blood, frogs, hail, fire. Death. The opening of the sea, the manna from the sky. But at the same time it gives us a lot of rules on what we can and can’t do, what we should and shouldn’t do. I thought about this and came to the conclusion that sometimes you do miracles, but most of the time we are here on our own, in a world that has its own rules, most of which we don’t understand.

Sorry God, but I don’t care about these rules.

I want a miracle. And the sooner the better.

We are waiting…

Letters to God – Part 21: Dreams

Joseph was a dreamer. For those not familiar with his story, he was the 11th sons of Jacob. He was especially loved by his father and probably hated by his brother because of that. And he also had dreams of grandeur: he dreamt of ruling over his family, including his father and mother. And the strange thing is that he went and told this to them. Not just a dreamer but also kind of dumb if you ask me :-). But no, he was not dumb – he was just living in his dream and didn’t let reality confuse him. As expected, his brothers tried to kill him, threw him in an empty cistern, then sold him to slavery ending as a slave in Egypt, where he was later accused of rape and sent to jail. And I assume that jails there were not very nice. But Joseph didn’t break, because he had a dream, because he was living his dream. And after so many struggles, he succeeded and became the Vizier of Egypt, his brothers and parents came and bowed to him. His dream came true.

Dreams… I have many dreams. Not when I sleep, but when I’m awake. I dream of doing big things, of changing the world. And at times life is tough, and it’s hard to think about tomorrow. But I think about my dreams and it gives me strength.

The other day I was talking with a friend about this, and he asked if having so ambitious dreams didn’t depress me because I may never attain them. I told him that I thought aiming high was the best way to climb faster, and that we usually achieve less than what we aim for, so if we aim for small things, we’ll just get very small results. I aim very high and maybe I’ll reach the top, but if I don’t, I’ll be a lot higher that I was before.

So I keep on dreaming. And hopefully, one day, some of my dreams will come true.