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Susan Barth
Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Surgery Marriage and Shemot- What Connects Them?

On the surface, the topics of surgery, marriage and the Torah portion of the week Shemot would appear to have nothing in common. However, in truth, they all share a common theme – and that is the necessity for having Vitamins B and P:  Bitachon and Proactivity.

What is Bitachon? Several thoughts

In his article based on a lecture series entitled Faith and Insecurity, the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l, writes that “The word bitachon, sometimes pronounced bitochon. Bitachon means security and bitochon means faith or trust.”

A corollary definition is provided by Rabbi Laibl Wolf in his Weekly Mission: Shemot Power of Trust who states that bitachon is trust and that we should always have a state of trust notwithstanding the circumstances that we find ourselves in. In other words, bitachon is a bullet-proof way to ensure positive outcomes to all challenges.

Watch his fascinating discussion on the topic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=lJaXTeTi9fc&feature=youtu.be

Rabbi Wolf, my Chabad Lubavitch spiritual advisor, holds a
LL.B M.Ed.Psych. and is the Dean -Spiritgrow – The Josef Kryss Wholistic Centre, Australia

Surgery and Marriage –Leaps of Faith

Over the last months since August (Elul), I have had to take a break from my marriage education work in deference to surgery. However, upon considerable reflection both require Bitachon and Proactivity.

Surgery

In suddenly having to deal with the topic of surgery and all its ramifications, I have discovered that there is really a dearth of information on how to approach the topic from a holistic framework.

Numerous resources describe the pre and post medical surgical procedures. However, from an emotional and mental and spiritual standpoint, the written sources are not as available.

Bitachon to the Rescue

At the end of the day, after leaving the hospital and after the initial days of medical treatment, it is easy to enter into a dark period of uncertainty – especially when life goes on and one has limitations on re- engagement. This is where one needs to reinforce their vitamin B– Bitachon.

For example, one lesson I have learned was eloquently described by the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l in his writings on Surgical Procedures to a follower:

“Your friend should also strengthen his bitachon in G‑d, the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” [particularly since] peace of mind is one of the most potent cures for ailments.

Proactive Steps Also Required

I discussed a number of proactive and holistic steps to take for recovery from a trauma in my blog The Journey from Pain to Freedom. However one major change and addition is detailed below:

Consider Plant Based Diet Regimen

One of the byproducts of surgery is to reevaluate your life style and determine mid-course corrections that would help provide the best post-surgical regimen. In my case this required a serious change from my diet rich on sugar and carbs and other not so healthy items to a complete (with chicken on Shabbat exception) plant based regimen.

Resources

The organization Forks over Knives provides The beginner’s guide to a Plant Based Diet which I found helpful.

A Daily Dozen Checklist is also a helpful list for keeping to the regimen.

Another resource, The Plantrician Project, provides listings of books and articles on the topic.

And a local major authority in Israel who provides excellent personal training and wellness coaching is Alan Freishtat.

Already I have experienced a major change in how I view foods and the discipline it provides to help my post-surgical recovery. The change in cuisine has helped me to concentrate on wellness and served as a catalyst for me to retain my commitment to physical therapy and daily walks and exercising.

And the diet is another expression of my bitachon that all will lead to a positive outcome in the days ahead.

Marriage and Shemot and Bitachon

And now to my major passion which is the topic of marriage and marriage education.

The topic of bitachon and its application to marriage takes center stage this week in the Torah Reading of Shemot.

As I detailed in a prior Times of Israel blog , A Child’s Marriage Advice that Saved Our Nation, ”this week’s Torah portion of Shemot reveals a riveting little known subplot of how the marital advice of a five year old, named Miriam, not only saved our tiny fragile nation from possible extinction, due to the evil decree of Pharaoh, but also set the stage for the birth of Moshe Rabbenu.”

Proactive steps regarding Marriage Education

And as elaborated in the blog, this is where marriage education comes into play. And often it is the voice of a five year old or child who is bereft of a parent from the consequences of divorce that reminds us that we need to learn how to become the best parents and couples we can be.

Shemot details in fact the introduction and marriage of our hero Moshe Rabbeinu to his wife Tzippora which would not have occurred but for the re- union of Moshe’s parents after their decision to divorce as a response to Pharaoh’s decrees.

NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT

In the wake of the renewal of COVID victims, the emphasis again is placed on the domestic front and our homes. This is the arena where marriage education is essential especially as it applies to our engaged and newlywed couples. Our amuta Together in Happiness has been a leader in the movement to advance marriage education in Israel and will continue to redouble its efforts to promote the topic in all spheres especially for engaged and newly married couples.

A Jewish Marriage Encounter Retreat is in the planning stages with more details to follow as well as a Yom Iyun for kallah and chatan trainers in the coming year.

Our Project Chayei Sarah with its five channels is in full planning stages and invites the public to contribute to the dialogue.

Summary

In sum, our Torah portion Shemot introduces a new era in the history of our people into enslavement in Egypt, but we all have read the end of the story and know that our application of bitachon has given us the fortitude to conquer all challenges, whether it is surgery or the beginning of homes and establishment of a foundation for a Jewish family – we will persevere and thrive – it all comes down to belief and trust – Think Good and it Will be Good and may we experience the Redemption NOW.

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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