Esor Ben-Sorek

Good Therapy

My blessed wife was correct. I had published my first (and only) book in 1967 and had published more than 1,000 articles in Jewish journals and newspapers. But I was a much younger man in those long-gone days.

When THE TIMES OF ISRAEL was born and made its much appreciated debut, she encouraged me to write a column from time to time.

After the publication of my first article I was enthused to continue writing. At that period of my life I was fully retired from all academic activities and I needed a “voice” to express my thoughts and opinions. It has been a very happy “marriage” for me.

I cannot, of course, speak for my esteemed and patient editor, Miriam Herschlag. I have bothered her so many times with my computer problems, among other sources of distress. To her wonderful spirit, she has never condemned my computer ignorance. Or my other ignorances, perhaps.

The staff of THE TIMES OF ISRAEL have become for me a part of my family and I rejoice in the mutual respect.

In the week prior to my wife’s death she made me promise to continue writing. She knew that after her death I would fall into depression and despair (which was the painful case), and in her wisdom she encouraged me to write frequently. She called it “good therapy”. She believed that my writing would diminish my sorrow and help the healing process. In that regard, she was incorrect.

While writing as a journalist I am engrossed in my subject while continuing to grieve for my greatest loss which never ceases to be diminished.

But the “good therapy” remark had a kernel of truth. The writing occupies my mind. It occupies hours of each day and in that non-psychiatric way it brings me some healing.

One of my inspirations has been the book on logotherapy written by Dr. Viktor Frankel, a holocaust survivor who explains how speaking and expressing feelings help in the healing process He is an internationally renowned psychiatrist and his ideas are based upon his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

My greatest source of inspiration came from my dying wife. “Promise me that you will continue writing articles for the TIMES OF ISRAEL. You will be surprised how it can be therapeutical for you.”

This is article # 918, in gematria it is the number 18 which in Hebrew represents the word “chai”, meaning life.

I had set a goal of 1,000 published articles, which at this stage leaves 92 more to write. I am not certain that I can reach that goal. At about 50 articles a year I estimate 2.5 more years of writing but I cannot be sure that at 87 I will have 2.5 more years of my life.

All the published articles thus far have been bound in 18 volumes comprising a total of more than 2,500 pages.

Perhaps my grandson will want to have them. As he is being married in January, perhaps I could give him all 18 volumes to take with him on his honeymoon in the event that he has some free time to read!!!

I hesitate only because I do not want to fall into the bad graces of his very lovely Orthodox bride !

Once, I wanted to write an article on the subject of same-sex marriages in Judaism, but I was determined to yield the subject to a fellow TOI blogger, Rabbi Dr. Moshe Mordechai van Zuiden.

As a Dutch Jew, he would have thoughts clearer than mine since homosexuality has long been accepted in the Netherlands. The Dutch are a more liberal and tolerant society.

For the past several months my two concerns have been with the political process, elections, and the needed change in our government from autocracy under Netanyahu to democracy under Gantz, and also to the bitter Turkish-Kurdish battle.

If my readers can provide subject matter of interest to them, I would be grateful to hear from them and hopefully be able to fulfill their suggestions.

Meanwhile it is Simchat Torah. Eat, drink and be merry with the God-given Torah on Sinai.

That too is good therapy!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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