Esor Ben-Sorek

Heaven (Or Hell) Can Wait

Over the past month I have been deteriorating in my health, both physical and mental and spiritual.. It began with severe pains in my lower back, radiating to one side of my hips and down to both legs. The dosages of aspirin and acumol were not effective in relieving the pain. Neither were the sprays of warm shower water.

My son, who is a doctor, recommended me to see a pain management specialist who examined the area of my complaint, sent me for an X-ray which showed no damage to the bone area. The prescription included two different medications, tablets to be taken morning and evening, one with food and one without.

Additionally, he prescribed a series of weeks of physical therapy treatments… bending, stretching and God only knows what other tortuous exercises….all of which I have refused.

My last (and only) visit to a physical therapist was more than twenty years ago. I don’t remember the reason it was recommended to me but I do remember the added pain it brought me. If I bent down to tie a shoe-lace it was more painful to try standing up.

My older daughter is a physical therapist and a specialist in sports medicine. So I am covered on all sides… a doctor son, a daughter physical therapist and a lawyer daughter who could help me sue them both for adding to my agony.

The physical pains in the meantime have given “birth” to mental anguish, dark thoughts and fears that my end is not too far away.

I prayed that God will end my pains and my anxieties and anguish. I prayed that He will be a loving Father to my not-too-far-away fatherless children. Then I took more pills, except for the one that makes me appear ready for the asylum, so great is the terrible effect it has upon me. It destroys my memory of familiar things and places for days at a time. My temporary salvation was to throw the bottle of pills into the garbage.

The pain management physician once again recommended some months of physical therapy to be preceded by an MRI this week.

But ascending from hell into a taste of heaven, God has taken compassion upon me and has sent to me within the past few days two strangers who have redeemed me from the loneliness and pain in my life.

One is a religious scholar and a very brilliant author whose articles drip with honey which sweeten me. He lives in Jerusalem and is a passionate fighter for religious tolerance… a warrior against the mighty sword of the ultra-orthodox zealots, a religious Jewish voice crying out and demanding ahavat achim.. love of one another . He, David B. and I have never met one another nor spoken to one another.

Our sole contact is via the TIMES OF ISRAEL, our mutual friend, our mutual voice of humaneness, respect and love.

The other “stranger” is one whom we had not seen since 1968. After 52 years had passed, yesterday I received an e-mail directed to the office of the blogs editor at the TIMES OF ISRAEL which was then directed to my personal e-mail address.

I want to share his words with you, words that I have re-read several times since yesterday, words which help to heal my pains, spiritual, mental and physical.

In one instant I have been lifted from hell to heaven. I am copying his words which have touched my heart. He titled his message-article “Thanks. 50 Years Overdue”.

“ Dear Professor:
You may remember me or not, but that is not the point. I have needed to write to you for many years. I was your student in the university in 1968 (52 years ago) and you taught me many things, the most important being to confront the world head-on always with as much love and respect as one can muster. You invited me to lunch with your beautiful family and I still remember the afternoon as being almost a ritual celebration of the joy of life on this earth. When I think back on my college years, you and your guidance are what ended up being the most important influence as I grew. I was a science major but I needed the humanities component of my studies that you provided for me to really proceed in life. After a long circuitous career I am now the Chorus-Master of the Metropolitan Opera in New York at the ripe age of 72. I could not have confronted the great composers that I study and struggle to represent in my music-making without the humility and respect that you helped muster in my soul. I wish you long life. Good health and rewards for all the goodness you have done. With love “ (followed by his signature).

As I re-copy Donald’s very touching words of praise, I tremble. 52 years have passed since he left my classroom. 52 years of silence.

And now, just at the moment when I struggle to continue with a life beyond my 87 years, a life blessed with many joys and a life punished by many pains, Hashem, my Av Ha-Rachamim. Almighty God, my Heavenly Father, has sent two wonderful men to bring me comfort and to uplift my burdens which increase with age.

In these dark and masked times, how can I reach out and embrace both of them , shlichim mi Hashem Yitborach, emissaries of the Blessed God ?

The TIMES OF ISRAEL must be my messenger of love. It is the one thing that has united the three of us.

A smile of happiness on my lips. Many tears falling from my eyes. I ask my children to keep a copy of this message when the time approaches them to begin the seven day period of shiva.

Blessed be the caring of true hearts. Blessed be the friends I have made. Blessed for my loving children and grandchildren. Blessed be the good souls who walk upon the earth bringing care, compassion and love and respect to family and to friends. To the known and to the strangers among us.

And blessings to the David B’s and the Donald P’s who bring warmth, understanding and love to all who are touched by their lives.

Thankfully, I am proud and grateful to be one of them.

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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