The Hebrew word “simcha” means joy or happiness. It is often used to refer to a special event…a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, an engagement, wedding, brit milah… an occasion when families and friends gather to celebrate.
Simcha is also the name of a very dear and treasured friend, Simcha Blumner, who, in these very painful days and months ,brings “simcha” into my life.
He constantly calls to inquire of my wife’s condition. She has been suffering since January with pancreatic cancer and the chemotherapy weekly has made her even more sick. Weak, frail, she is unable to do anything that she did when she was healthy.
She sleeps many hours of the day, nibbles on foods that I prepare for her, takes some of her many medications to relieve nausea and discomfort, and returns to bed to watch the nightly news on Arutz 2. When she is able to sit up, she loves the challenge of “tifzoret”… word search… and is delighted when she can successfully complete a full page.
Simcha asks me what he can do for us. I tell him to just continue praying. He responds that he prays daily for Rahel’s refuah shelemah but wants to know what else he can realistically do.
He asks if he can shop for our groceries and I tell him that our freezer is well-stacked and the refrigerator is full. When I think we need something, I can drive to the local supermarket. We lack for nothing except for my beloved’s improved good health.
Simcha wants to visit but Rahel cannot see visitors lest they bring a cold or other germs into the apartment which could harm her immune system.
He wants to take me out for dinner but I cannot leave Rahel alone for long. She may not need anything from me at a given moment but I need to be with her, to look at her, to make her smile, and to shed tears when she is not looking at me.
Friendship is the most beautiful gift in the world. All my life I have lived by a Talmudic adage..one of truth…. “o chevruta o mituta”…. Give me friendship or give me death. A life without true loving friends is not a life. It is emptiness.
Simcha Blumner brings simcha into my life when I see him in the bet ha Knesset every Shabbat morning and when I hear his voice, full of warmth and love and compassion, over the wires of the telephone.
Genuine friendship is not always easy to find. We are living in a “ME” generation. What’s in it for ME?
But when one heart and hand reaches out to another heart and hand, it brings comfort and caring and is the best medicine for relieving hurt, pain, sadness, loneliness, and despair. It is another form of philanthropy…. from the Greek, it means helping others who are in need.
Simcha Blumner brings simcha into my life. He understands my pain and my devastation. But he inspires me to hope. He is a religious Jew and believes in the power of prayer and the miracles which only the Kadosh Baruch Hu can perform.
Having him as a friend is God’s gift to me.