26 Kislev 5778 / Thursday, December 14, 2017 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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Spiritual Shopping

The unexpected and frequently undesired little challenges that put bumps in life's road are really pop quizzes from Hashem to test our emuna...


Today I experienced a miracle. Of course, we all experience miracles every day- we can see, we can hear, the earth didn’t explode in chaos… I’m not talking about that kind. I’m talking about something that, according to logic, wouldn’t get better without some kind of major intervention. I’m talking about a major switch, from night to day.
Let me explain…
When I was pregnant with my first son, towards the seventh month I started having terrible, shooting pains in my hands. It got so painful I couldn’t lay down to sleep. I couldn’t even recline. It was almost unbearable. I went to a therapist who told me it was severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I followed the therapy regimen, but didn’t feel any improvement. I suffered with it until a few months after I gave birth.
Thankfully, with my second pregnancy, it didn’t return with the same severity. The pain was tolerable, and was mainly in my right hand. With my third son, however, it came back with a vengeance. Towards my third month the fire and needles started up again. Even holding the phone was painful (maybe Hashem was trying to get me to stop talking!). Finally I gave in and saw a hand surgeon. I went to her twice for cortisone injections, and was told that eventually I would need surgery to get rid of the problem.
I was like, “No, thank you!” On the other hand, I was scared at the thought of having this pain for the rest of my life. What could I do? Nothing - or so I thought…
When Rabbi Lazer Brody first came to Miami, I told him about the pain in my hands. He told me that when I make challah, I should meditate on something (I can’t remember for the life of me what it was) and to read a certain section in Likutei Moharan. My response was something straight out of an old MTV cartoon, “Uh, huhuh, (chuckle), make challah?” Okay - so I did it. (You can laugh at my first attempt in my article, “Challicious”.) At this time, it was already almost 3 months after I gave birth, so the pain started to pass on its own.
The next pregnancy it started up again from the very beginning. We were in the middle of making aliyah, and the doctor had told me previously that I couldn’t just keep getting more cortisone injections. For the most part, I had been making challah all this time, but I hadn’t seen any improvements. On the contrary - it got worse. Anyways, the same thing happened after I gave birth, and I finally accepted the fact that this was going to be the pattern until I stopped having kids or turned 70 - whichever came first.
A few months ago, the pain started up again. I knew I wasn’t pregnant, but it just kept getting worse and worse. I had to start sleeping with my arm hanging off the bed half the night, to ease the pressure. My hand was numb and tingling with pain no matter what I did. I was frustrated, to say the least. I happened to tell my dear friend Rivka Levy about my chronic problem, and she suggested I see a healer that she went to a few times. I didn’t have anything to lose at that point (besides a whole lotta cash), so I made an appointment.
In the meantime, I asked G-d to make this healer His shaliach (messenger), so I can resume functioning like a semi-normal human being. I got to see her three weeks ahead of my scheduled appointment, and I didn’t have any expectations of the outcome. She did some energy work, acupuncture, and reflexology. I would have enjoyed myself, but I had my little one-year-old laying next to me and crying hysterically because other people were looking at him and talking to him. How dare they!
Here’s the miraculous part: the next morning I woke up, and I realized that my hand wasn’t numb and in pain! All day I kept waiting somewhat anxiously for the pain to come back, as if I were going to wake up from a dream. So far, the pain hasn’t returned! G-d willing, it will never, ever return!
Why did I bother with so much detail? I want to make a point very clear: Rebbe Nachman teaches us to never give up. Never give up hope that things can change at any moment. Even if a person has the sword sitting on the back of his neck, he should never stop praying that things can change in an instant. Never give up praying for what you need, and know that G-d is listening to your prayers.
Rabbi Brody explains it like this: personal prayer is like money, and blessings are like items in the store. Each blessing comes with its own price tag. The greater the blessing, the more prayer required to get it. At any moment, things can change for you- all you need to do is keep adding to your spiritual bank account!

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