Susan Barth
Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Elul Umbilical Connection Countdown

As the countdown continues from  Elul to Rosh Hashanah and the King Returning from the Field to the Palace, I want to share my personal Elul Umbilical Connection Story.

After spending a lot of this last year “sulking over the Corona” and the excuse it provided for the  outward expressions of negativity and physical weight gain, I chose to ignore an interesting “bulge” taking place in my abdominal area otherwise known as the belly button. Finally around the end of July after the three weeks were over, I felt its presence could and should not be ignored and made the dreaded appointment with the family doctor who took one look at it and said it needs to be surgically repaired. In anticipation I had made an appointment on July 28 with a surgeon at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital who corroborated the need for surgery.

I then decided that why not take the plunge and schedule surgery for the following August 3 Tuesday – one week later as the surgeon’s schedule permitted.

Part of the urgency was due to the fact that I still had hopes of going to the Ohel of the Rebbe for my annual Elul 8 visit and I knew surgery would require some convalescence. And any surgery that waited till after the trip would bump into the chagim.

The Decision to Delay

I left the appointment full steam prepared for the August 3 surgery. However, despite the best efforts, the only complication was that the hospital requires a full pre opt day and Maccabi approvals and after further contemplation and discussion with the surgeon – I decided to take the risk and postpone the surgery till his next available date which was Friday August 27 – not ideal but I wanted the surgeon so the date was set. The rescheduled date allowed for having the pre opt session done according to the rules as a plus. It also became a fixed point for preparation – mentally and physically and emotionally and most of all spiritually.

Delay of the Ohel

Having said that the only downside of the scheduled surgery was that it became obvious that for the second year in a row I had to postpone my beloved trip to the Ohel – which was heartbreaking for me but had a very interesting by product.

As an aside I had an arrangement with the director of the Ohel based on my several years of trips to the Ohel on my Date of Elul 8 that he would take all the requests that I would have brought with me for others and presented in person and to be my proxy and take the fax of the requests and place them at the Ohel. And again with the decision to postpone the Ohel trip again, I asked the director again to be my proxy which he agreed to do.

Now for the interesting aside. I asked my new surgeon if he had any bracha requests as a matter of interest and courtesy (since he knew how much I had wanted to go again this year). And the reply I received was mind boggling – he requested that I ask for a prayer for his father who “passed away” – I was shocked when he responded to my inquiry as to the date of passing that it was 10 days prior and here is the shock – the funeral was on the first original surgery date of August 3 – so ironically my surgeon would not have performed the surgery because of the conflict with the funeral!! And I all of a sudden felt that I was a member of his family – asking for a bracha for his late father at the Ohel and now seeing the surgeon in a totally new light – as an ovel not as a surgeon and my compassion went out to him in a very real way not as a professional relationship but as a fellow yid and this new person in my life I could help with asking for the bracha for his father at the Ohel of the Rebbe – and the surgeon appreciated it so much. None of this would have happened had I not asked casually if he had a bracha request!

Friday surgery

I had certain misgivings about the idea of surgery on Friday which my Chabad mentor had mentioned that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was not in favor of – but had rationalized that this was my surgeon of choice and the only date available and that given his new loss – that I should not say anything.

However, in doing a google search on the Lubavitcher Rebbe and surgery I read correspondence which the Rebbe had written which was adamantly opposed to Friday surgery to the degree that it appeared the Rebbe was writing me personally. And this discovery came 3 days after my Elul 8 “pan” was taken to the Ohel and which mentioned the surgery etc.

https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/letters/default_cdo/aid/2306911/jewish/Chapter-12-Surgery-and-Medical-Procedures.htm

I knew I could not ignore the link and the Rebbe’s admonitions so I sent the link to the doctor asking if there was any other date and asking him from a soul perspective to consider my dilemma.

I then boldly asked last Sunday August 22 if the surgeon would take another consult with me to consider the urgency of the surgery and maybe agree to put it off till the end of the chagim.

And he agreed and asked me to come in on Monday August 23.

August 23 – Day before the surgery

In a quick turn about the surgeon asked if my hesitancy was having surgery at all or the Friday date and when I replied it was the Friday he examined me and offered the next day – last Tuesday August 24 – I jumped at the turn of events and so that is the background for the change from Friday August 27 to Tuesday August 24.

Tuesday August 24

The surgery brought together the A team in terms of my surgeon, the head professor of anesthesiology and the head of the Recovery Room.

The only words on my lips going into surgery was my complete faith in Hashem and repeating over and over again “Ein old Milvado

And the next day I was discharged and went straight to babysit for my grandchildren.

Lessons learned

  • Believe in Hashem and advocate for your principles
  • Consult with mentors who have “your back”
  • Know that in Elul – you can undertake repair on every level
  • That umbilical surgery is challenging in terms of how significant the abdomen is to full functioning
  • And that the umbilical cord is your connection to your own mother whose support and nurturing you are never too old to need

Wishing you a Shana tova and K’tiva v’chaimta tova and may all your prayers for connection be answered this coming year

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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