Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yisrael - My Struggle with G-d

I have shared openly with many people that I struggle with G-d (the meaning of the word Yisrael). Causes range from "the Holocaust" to the "see it to believe it" and looking at a rainbow or a baby ain't enough for me because of science. Some days, I am jealous of people who have a strong faith in G-d (or relationship with). There are times when I hypothesize that if the word "G-d" wasn't about a Being but a definition of the collection of history, tradition, liturgy, values, holidays, celebrations and community that I believe so much in, then I would accept the idea.

I get asked about "why pray?" ... why keep a level of kashrut. The answers: why pray - community and just in case .... and as for kashrut .... because Bubbie did. It's certainly not because of commandments, it's because each Jewish dietary decision I make reminds me in that moment of my Judaism. Having said that, I can't explain my powerful believe in b'shert (in meant-to-be situations and in soulmates.

There is this joke that says that even atheists believe in G-d in a foxhole. I am sitting in the proverbial foxhole, and I am not sure I agree.

On Friday morning, I got the call no one ever wants to get. The one where you are told a parent has had a catastrophic cardiac episode and the future is unclear. You especially don't want that call when you live 1000 miles from your family. So this is my foxhole. And I haven't done what everyone expects me to do - start negotiating with G-d.

I have talked to my Dad ... over the long distance and sitting at his bedside. I have "spoken" to loved ones who have passed on and had conversations with them begging them to send him back from the light. I have recited pieces of liturgy around healing - maybe more for my comfort and again in that "just in case." I have asked those around me who are in a relationship with G-d (in any religion) to add him to their thoughts and prayers. But I haven't directly reached out to G-d while sitting in my foxhole. It seems hypocritical.

Things are grim in my foxhole. I am sitting at his bedside now. He has yet to regain consciousness and so far he isn't responding to basic neurologic stimuli. The doctors have told us that there isn't any conclusive evidence yet that he won't at some point in the near future ... but they can't guarantee he will either.

Mi Shebeirach

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M'kor habracha l'imoteinu

May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say: Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M'kor habracha l'avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh'leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say: Amen.

Lyrics by Debbie Friedman and Drorah Setel


caren said...

Amen. Thinking of you and your father and keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers.

Peter said...


I know how you feel - I've been struggling with my dad's newly diagnosed cancer. Faith is hard to grasp but it's out there somewhere. It's being able to hear the still small voice.

My thoughts are with you.


Melonpershing said...


Thank you for bringing Barb and I back to your family.

I know that things are very rough for you, Joel, and your Mom right now. But, I want you and everyone in your family to know, that Barb and I are hear for you at ANYTIME. I DO MEAN ANYTIME!!!!