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Bitter to better

With my 'feet of clay,' my scooter is a blessing that I hate that I need – but that I am lucky to have
(The Jewish Life Photo Bank/Gitty Gottdiener)
(The Jewish Life Photo Bank/Gitty Gottdiener)

Four years.

It’s pretty unbelievable actually — how much it can feel like such a long time, and like the blink of an eye.

It’s high school. It’s college. It’s amount of time I’ve been at this new job… I guess it’s not a new job anymore.

But it’s also the amount of time that I haven’t been walking. I mean I walk here and there… I take baby steps. I use other people’s forearms as a human walker of sorts.

But I don’t feel confident on my feet. I don’t feel that they can hold me. I have feet of clay instead of clay feet.

“Feet of clay” and the “clay feet” to which I have referred ironically have the same origin point, and completely different meanings… At least for me.

“Feet of clay” is an idiomatic phrase that means a character flaw that is not readily apparent.

“Clay feet” refers to Daniel:2:33.

“שָׁק֖וֹהִי דִּ֣י פַרְזֶ֑ל רַגְל֕וֹהִי [מִנְּהֵין֙] (מנהון) דִּ֣י פַרְזֶ֔ל [וּמִנְּהֵ֖ין] (ומנהון) דִּ֥י חֲסַֽף”

Daniel is interpreting the dream for Nebuchadnezzar (we can discuss the similarities between him and Yosef a different time), in which he describes a statue whose head was made of fine gold, its midsection and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, and its feet, part iron and part Clay.

Its feet were broken into pieces.

See, in our culture, clay feet and feet of clay are understood it to mean a character flaw that is not readily apparent.

Rashi says that its legs were iron, but partially of iron and partially of clay — i.e., part of each foot was of iron and part of clay. “מהן של ברזל ומהן של חרש”

And that is how I sometimes feel. When I do PT, when I am doing my exercises… I know that my legs are strong. My feet… not so much. OK. Maybe they are clay. But my legs are strong… Like iron… And yet they can’t hold me up because my feet are clay.

But I have this scooter. And this is how I feel about it four years later: it’s a blessing that I hate that I need, but I am lucky that I have.

Does it make my life more difficult? Sometimes. But it also gives me my freedom.

Do young, frum children ask questions on Shabbat (how it’s permitted on the Jewish day of rest)? You bet. But it’s an amazing teaching opportunity — not only to teach them about “shinui” (the concept in Jewish law of changing the Sabbath-prohibited action enough so as not to violate the essence of the law), about talking with your local rabbi, biology and a little bit of genetics, but also about relating to people who are different than they are… And that, really, we are all the same. And that we can still be friends, even though we are different.

It’s really hard to do certain things… Like date. But I don’t want to talk about that now. I don’t want to talk about how it’s hard. I want to talk about how much easier my life is now. My friend once called me a powerhouse on wheels… I hope that I am.

I just want to make a difference in this world. I just want to use all the different strengths that HaShem (God) has given me, and the ones that He has not given me, and use them to my benefit. Not only to cause awareness, but to change the hearts and minds of my friends and peers.

I just wanted to share my thoughts about my weird anniversary. It’s the anniversary of my freedom, but it’s also the anniversary of a bitter reality that hopefully I can turn from bitter to better.

About the Author
Rivka Herzfeld earned an M.A. in Tanach from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Judaic Studies. She enjoys teaching Tanach to all ages and backgrounds. Rivka is also a respected disability awareness educator. She is personable, easygoing, has a terrific sense of humor, and loves sharing puns. She is passionate about politics, human rights, and “liberty and justice for all.” Rivka is determined to make her voice count.
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