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Triumph of the Spirit: An Askmoses Story

by Mrs. Heidi Hass

  

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My husband and I have been married for ten years, and six years ago we were blessed with a son. Within a year of our son’s birth, cancer was discovered in my husband’s kidneys and they had to be removed. Since the onset of his illness, I have watched my husband slowly deteriorate. His joints and tendons have become calcified to the point where he hobbles like an old man. Neuropathy has taken away his fine motor skills, so the man who won my heart with humorous magic tricks can no longer manipulate cards and dice. We have been waiting for a kidney for almost six years now, and I have been forced to face the possibility of becoming a widow with a young child.  

I have often felt the need to be spiritual. When I was growing up, my family observed Passover and Chanukah and my mother lit the Shabbat candles. For Rosh Hashanah, we dipped apples in honey; for Yom Kippur, my father would sometimes fast. I had a Bat Mitzvah as a girl, but soon afterwards my parents stopped going to the synagogue and lighting Shabbat candles. This gave me the idea that Jewish prayer and rituals were not a necessary part of life.

I decided to ask G-d to help my family. And I had a sudden compulsion to cover my eyes during my prayer
Over time, I’ve lived in Hawaii and Japan—neither of which is exactly brimming with Judaism. I tried several times to attend Jewish services on military bases, but they were hard to reach. Now, the circumstances of my husband’s illness have increased my need for spirituality.

Recently, I came upon the website www.askmoses.com, which had me “chatting" with a Mrs. Bronya Shaffer in real-time. During one of our many online discussions, she recommended I go to the Mikvah. My husband had his doubts and I was skeptical of the idea, wondering what good it could do to immerse myself in a pool of water. I’ve been to the town pool many times and I didn’t think there could be much of a difference. But Mrs. Shaffer made the mikvah sound like such an act of holiness that I decided to try it.

I was very nervous about going, but she promised to meet me there. During my morning shower, I must have washed myself at least five times and when I got there, I showered again and called for the attendant. She brought me to the pool of rainwater, which is the mikvah, where I immersed myself in the waters and was left alone to pray.

I decided to ask G-d to help my family. And I had a sudden compulsion to cover my eyes during my prayer. I still don’t understand why I felt this need so strongly; I’ve sometimes closed my eyes to pray, but never covered them. I finished my prayer, and got out to dry off.

Then it dawned on me. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Esther—all these women throughout our history had done what I had just done. I had made a connection to all the women before me, over thousands of years, who prayed in the mikvah. I suddenly realized that they prayed in the same way. At that time I did not yet know that covering your eyes to pray was something that Jewish people often do. As I left the mikvah, I felt such a deep connection with Jews all over the world—I felt that I have so many people to help me through this.


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Very Moving...

Posted by: Audrey Kemp, Chicago, IL on Oct 21, 2004

Having just gone through a serious crisis in my life, I can relate to the author of this story. Sometimes these feelings remain dormant for many years, it seems rather interesting that it sometimes takes life's "hard knocks" to bring them to the forefront. Thanks for sharing this incredible story.

Powerful

Posted by: Debbie M Rochester, Atlanta, GA on Nov 24, 2005

b"h

Very powerful article! May Hashem continue to bless you and your family. It is so amazing how doing "Jewish things" can really elevate yourself and enrich your life! I am on a journey, as we all are, to be the Jewish woman Hashem knows I can be.

May Hashem bless us all for a peaceful year and bring the Moschiach!

RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Pain and Suffering

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Mikvah
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
Chanukah
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Esther
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Sarah
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
Rebecca
Second of the Jewish Matriarchs. Wife of the Patriarch Isaac, and father of Jacob. b. 1675 BCE, d. 1553 BCE.
Rachel
Third of the four Jewish matriarchs. Daughter of Laban, favorite wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Died while giving birth to Benjamin in 1557 BCE.
Leah
Fourth of the four Jewish matriarchs. Elder daughter of Laban, wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of six of the Tribes, including Levi and Judah.
Miriam
Older sister of Moses and Aaron, and a prophetess in her own right.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.
Family Purity
Laws relating to intimacy between husband and wife. The primary point of Family Purity is the woman's purifying immersion in a ritual bath which allows the couple to resume intimate relations after the woman's menstrual period.