On the roof of the Aish center looking down at the Western Wall with Chevra & Davai in 2011

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Friday, July 4, 2014

When's the time to stop praying?

There are many times throughout the day and the week that we have opportunities to pray for someone else's recovery from illness.  On Monday mornings, Thursday mornings, Shabbas mornings and afternoons, when the Torah is out, there a special prayer for someone’s recovery from illness.  Also, during the weekday Shemoneh Esrei, 18 times throughout the week, we can insert someone's name and ask G-d to grant them a complete recovery.

A complete recovery... Not just a rafuah, but a rafuah shleimah.

What about a partial recovery?  Someone who has 2 problems will most probably be very happy to recover from 1 of them.

In other situations, a partial recovery just doesn't do the job.  In other situations a partial recovery is worse than no recovery at all.  My father is in one of those situations.

At 78 years old, physically, he's still fairly strong and as tough as nails.  Over the past 25 years, he's beat both cancer & leukemia. Though he shrunk a few inches in size, his. 5'11", 220 pound frame still gives him a strong presence.  Thick & strong, you don't want to be on the wrong side of a heated argument with him.  It can be very intimidating.  I felt a little intimidated this morning.  I thought he was going to take a swing it me.  I’m not mad at him.  I'm not even sure he knew who I was.  Though he's winning his battles of physical health, he's losing his battles of mental health badly.  In just about a year, he went from being a little cloudy mentally to full blown dementia.

Since I started praying 12 years ago, I prayed for my father’s health.  G-d half delivered.  G-d has kept him alive.  G-d has kept him strong.  G-d has let my fathers mind almost disappear.  G-d has let my father's needs & aggressive moods push my mother’s patience to a breaking point.  G-d has answered part of my prayers and for many years I've been grateful for that, but not anymore.

Now, how do I tell G-d that it's all or nothing?  How do I tell G-d that I need either the rafuah shleimah or no rafuah at all?  How do I tell G-d to either cure him or take him?  My father is scared.  My mother is mentally & emotionally drained.  Should I ask G-d to take my father or do I say nothing at all?

The questions are many.  The answers are few.  This morning, one of my brothers & I tried to take him to the hospital as a step towards going to a nursing home.  They refused to admit him ... Too argumentative.  They couldn't handle him.  I debated staying in town, but I had a commitment.  Here I am, on a plane to Israel.  I committed to help a friend run a trip for young professionals to explore Israel and even help a handful of guys experience yeshiva for the first time.

My job is to inspire them to explore their Judaism and talk to G-d and for the first time I'm many years, I don't know what to say myself.

I'm not having a crisis of faith.  Even tough when questioned by my relatives about why the suffering continues, the answers I have learned seemed futile.

Even though I couldn't come up with an answer that made sense, I still believe.  I just don't know what to say.

I once read that by a shiva, we’re rewarded by our silence.... Just sitting is enough.  Maybe I just need to sit in since with G-d.

Maybe I should just pour out my heart to G-d & let him come up with the answers.

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