12 Adar A 5779 / Sunday, February 17, 2019 | Torah Reading: Ki Tisa
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The Divine Heart Massage    

The Divine Heart Massage

I placed my hand firmly down against the patient’s aorta; it was the closest and most intimate connection I could have with the essence of life...


For as far back as I can remember in my childhood, my career aspiration was to become a doctor. I’m not sure where the idea came from; I just know that I was in awe of the human body.  By the time I was a young teenager, I had all 206 bones memorized. In my late teens I had the merit to spend my summers at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Center, which I fondly remember as one of the most exciting times in my life. As a pre-med student, I was witness to the most life-threatening accidents, which ranged from car crashes to third degree burns and multiple gunshot wounds. I got to scrub in for all types of major surgeries, and even helped out in a few.
I relished every gory minute of it.
There were other areas of medicine in which I also got to intern, such as internal medicine, obstetrics, gastroenterology, and radiology - but nothing compared to surgery. What was it that excited me so? There was one case in particular that really stood out…
After a long summer day of entering information into the Trauma Center’s system regarding various car crash-related injuries for their ongoing injury research program, the attending surgeon asked me if I’d like to stick around for the night, since he was on call. I did everything I could to keep a serious face and not jump around like a screaming lunatic who just won the lottery. I vaguely remember a squeal escaping from my mouth as I looked around in embarrassment, trying to make it seem that someone else in the office was bursting with excitement at their desk for no particular reason.
Late that night, a car crash victim came in, and he was in critical condition. After a few minutes of trying to stabilize him in the admitting area, the doctors quickly took him to surgery. His severe internal bleeding required the doctors to perform a major abdominal surgery in which the entire abdomen was cut open from sternum almost to the pubic bone. Luckily for me (and unluckily for the patient), I was allowed to scrub in and stand right next to the body during the surgery.

Every moment of every hour throughout that 6+ hour surgery was like heaven for me. Bu
t the crowning moment of the night was when the attending surgeon asked me for my hand…not in marriage, of course! No - he asked me to give him my hand, which I did, in tremendous anticipation. He took my hand and placed it all the way inside this guy’s abdomen, until half of my arm was surrounded by internal organs!  He then pressed my hand firmly down against the patient’s aorta, which is all the way towards the back, basically sitting in front of the spine.
At that moment, I almost passed out from the tremendous excitement and awe I was feeling. Tears came to my eyes as I connected with the life-force, the strong and steady pulse, running through his body. It was the closest and most intimate connection I could have with the essence of life. For me, it was a connection with G-d Himself.
Have you heard Rabbi Lazer Brody describe a heartbeat?  He says it’s Hashem personally massaging your heart. If you listen closely enough, you can hear, “Yud Kei, Vav Key. Yud Kei, Vav Key.” You know what? He’s right. There’s nothing like listening to the sound of your heart beating. Its sound is profoundly spiritual and comforting at the same time. It’s like G-d is whispering in your ear, “My beloved child, I’m right here, taking care of you. I’m always watching over you. There’s no need to fear. It's me Who is making your heart beat every moment.”
Next time you’re feeling down, take a moment to put your hand over your heart. Feel your heart beating. Imagine the blood, the nefesh, being pumped through the heart and traveling all throughout your body. Even better, go to your local medical supply store and get yourself a stethoscope.  Really - I’m not kidding. Sometimes, all it takes is a moment to connect to the deepest part of ourselves in order to bring us back to good spirits.

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