The coronavirus that has engulfed the entire world and changed every aspect of our daily lives gives us a new appreciation for the medical field and their tremendous personal sacrifice. Doctors and nurses are on duty 24/7 for the expressed purpose of saving lives. In addition, it also gives us an appreciation of the way our lives used to be only a few weeks ago.
For me this period of time right before Pesach brings me back more than 20 years ago when I underwent open heart surgery in Shaarei Tzedek hospital. It was the only time in my life that I was not with family for the seder.
It began with what I mistakenly thought was just a very bad stomach virus, but several days later I was diagnosed with bacteria endocarditis-a life threatening infection in my heart. I was literally lingering between this world and the next, almost like being in the ten days of repentence. After successful open heart surgery to replace a valve in my heart I was in the ICU for another 10 days. Still my heart was not functioning properly and a permanent pacemaker was implanted.
Throughout that month of recuperation and endless blood checks I learned many lessons. The doctors and nurses that saved my life game me a totally different understanding of the medical field and their incredible dedication to their patients. Their one and only objective was saving lives. In addition, they gave new meaning of what it is to give to others with compassion and concern. When I asked my youngest daughter why she chose the nursing profession she told me it was because of what she experienced then.
It also taught me the meaning of tefillah, that true prayer is not about what I want or need, but rather what others need. And perhaps that is why the sages decided that every blessing of the shmoneh esreh is in the plural. I had no idea how many said tehillim on my behalf during this most trying time for me and my family, but somehow it worked-someone upstairs was listening.
I also learned that life is a gift, every single moment of every single day. And it is up to us to utilize the time that we have in the best way possible.
Finally, after a month in the hospital I was told I could go home. What an extraordinary feeling that was then-to go home to my family, friends and community in Efrat. No more of that hospital food and being woken up at 5 A.M. to have my temperature taken.
During the last twenty years I have had the merit of seeing my children get married and raise their own families, bringing us the joy of 18 grandchildren ( whose hugs we miss tremendously!). And I have had the opportunity of teaching and being part of the lives of kids and adults from all over the world. It never mattered how much knowledge I imparted, but rather it was more important for me to listen to everyone’s ideas and thoughts.
While these days are truly difficult ones we have to do our best to help each other, stay in contact and get through this the best way possible. As we said at the conclusion of Sefer Shmot: chazak, chazak v’nitchazek!
Chag sameach and refuah shleimah to all!