7 Cheshvan 5781 / Sunday, October 25, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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Finding Hashem Within MS    

Finding Hashem Within MS

With emuna now in my life, I stopped putting limitations on myself because I was disabled. I started thinking about myself in a completely different manner..


Hashem has always been in my life. He has always been guiding my journey, answering my questions, pointing me in the right direction. Until recently, I didn’t know any of this.


The year 1999 started my active search for my roots. Everywhere I looked, people were wearing Stars of David, when I went into a restaurant, the men wore yarmulkes. Then I attended my first Kabbalah Center retreat in Palm Springs. During my 10 years learning the Rules of the Game, I learned about the opponent, putting G – D in front of my emotions, and 72 names for the Almighty among other treasures.


Maybe because the knowledge of Kabbalah ideally should not come before learning about Orthodox Judaism, I used what I could to stay as close to the path as possible. Life kept getting in the way.


Very quickly I discovered I had some emotional healing to do before I could get very far. The only way that healing could happen is if I went in and patched up old memories, forgave old transgressions, and recognize that I had, indeed, been the source of all of the misfortunes so easily blamed on others.


The train wreck of my emotional battlefield became fodder for hours upon hours of seeking every last shred of disappointment and blame.


I could only get so far. I needed some time in a nursing home to discover how good I had it outside of that place. What I now recognize as Hashem's hand seemed like incomprehensible good fortune when my previous partner/enemy became my only friend. He was seeking something also and rescued me from the nursing home. Thinking he wanted to convert, he put both of us into separate apartments immediately behind Young Israel/Aish on Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas.


My friend never went through with his conversion, BUT what I found out at Young Israel gave me the framework for what I had learned at the Kabbalah Center. I started attending classes and reading and going to not only Orthodox Union type lectures, but those of the branches of Hasidism. From each place, I took little pieces of knowledge and wisdom that were beginning to make sense.


Of course there was Facebook where I found hours of information to pad my learning to live Judaism. I koshered my kitchen taking my Rabbi's words to heart – that this act of eating kosher would take the skin off my heart. I must say I barely knew what that meant and now almost 6 years later, that's exactly what happened.


Eating kosher, living Shomer Shabbos (keep the Sabbath) all week created a space inside where I used to think was only a battle. My battle for Wellness. Things started making sense to me, I started seeing miracles which had always been there and new ones coming from friends and family and, of course, Hashem.


Living Judaism allowed me to turn a corner and travel down the corridor leading to the understanding, awe, love, appreciation and intensity of Life with Meaning. I learned The Six Constant Mitzvot and kept them at the tip of my heart and actions, always. I kept my 72 names of God hanging across from my pillow. Mezuzot were on all my door posts, I had five women friends who studied Torah with me, besides my Shabbos attendance and class there and including my Tuesday night class with Rabbi Wyne.


One morning I picked up the book "Garden of Emuna" quickly glanced through it and was going to dismiss it because I didn't like something I saw on one of the first 15 pages about people with disabilities. I started to make up my mind this would help me. Very fortunately, my Rabbi was around and he suggested that that I get over it because reading about Emunah would be worth it for me to do so.


Now, three of my six study partners study "The Garden" books with me. I think I've read “Garden of Emuna" five times, and am getting through "Garden of Gratitude", Women’s Wisdom and maybe most poignantly for this article, "The Garden of Healing".


Even after having had the disease of multiple sclerosis for over 40 years and having spent an intense five years living well in the Garden of Judaism, the first time I began to thank Hashem for giving me the disease was during my personal prayer time with Him, the words would not come out of my mouth. I was no longer suffering, I was actually living pretty well. Dedicating my life to performing mitzvot transformed an unhappy existence to an amazingly profound and sometimes joyful life. I almost thought I could get away with not saying thank you for this horrific attacker of my synapses. I was writing a blog, I was finding more and more ways to be happier, I had lots of friends, I was having some amazing experiences. My life at Young Israel-Aish was filled with more joy than many have.


And then I said it. I thanked Hashem for giving me multiple sclerosis in this lifetime. I cried for twenty minutes. When I finished crying I realized the very many blessings I have exactly because I have multiple sclerosis. I thanked the Almighty for allowing me to retain the ability to think clearly and for keeping my eyesight. Very quickly, the things I could not do and seemed not quite as important.


I began to dream new dreams. I stopped putting limitations on myself because I was disabled. I thought of myself differently. When I started considering MS (“emes”-truth, in Hebrew) as a gift instead of an insurmountable wall between me and my dreams, life changed. If living an Orthodox Jewish life had been my intended path from the beginning, thanking Hashem for what even living well could not heal, must have been the goal of that path.


The (not so) simple act of finding the grace in exactly the place where I would have given myself permission to check out of life, has been astounding in an astounding quest for peace and love and self-acceptance.

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  4 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
Nina L5/5/2015 12:49:23 AM
  I'm moved to tears
Yosefah4/21/2015 7:00:10 PM
  Beautifully moving
Kathleen4/20/2015 9:38:18 PM
  Much hatzlacha - check out McDougall
P K4/20/2015 10:26:24 AM

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