Dr Judith Guedalia

Pure Belief
Chaim K. has gone through a difficult time of late.  It is impossible to imagine oneself confined to a chair 24/7 for a week, let alone ten years!  Over the five years that we have known each other, I have been privy to Chaim K's indomitable spirit and the highs and lows of his mood.  The Jewish Press has given Chaim K. a platform from which to share his feelings and outlook on life.  A column titled "The Ever-Ready Battery" (The Jewish Press, April 8 2010) expresses Chaim K's ennui/exhaustion with his status quo.  "Just" living was so draining. 
            Without going into the specifics, what can only be seen as Hashem's intervention, caused a situation where Chaim K. was presented with a choice, maybe the first choice in his life since the car that hit him destroyed his care-free adolescence.  Chaim K. chose to see the opportunity presented to him in its entire awesome proportions.  He chose life.  His belief in Hashem's miraculous ways were revitalized, re-energized; his battery was recharged.  He entered my office and began speaking immediately.
            "For ten years already, I ask God for an answer to my question of 'Why me? Why davka me?'
            "There has to be order in Hashem's world, there has to be an explanation for chaos-- this mess I am in; run over by a car at age 14, this is the tenth year of me being a quadriplegic on a respirator.  I can't move or feel anything but my face.  The one thing I do have is time, time to think - so, so, so much time.
            "I realized such a question couldn't be answered.   I'll explain my thinking to you through a parable:
            "Let's say a person steps on an ant.  The friends of the ant, not unlike me, my friends and my family, ask why did this person step on our beloved son, brother and friend and squash him. He was a good ant; he was hard working and a member of our society.  Why him?
            "The person, who stepped on the ant, can try to explain to the ant's friends why he did that.
'People don't like ants in their houses; it isn't aesthetic or clean; they carry disease and makes me look like a bad housekeeper'.
            "You can try to explain for 50 years straight - until you are blue in the face - why he killed their friend but, the ant will never understand.  Because the 'squasher' is a human and the ant is just a lowly ant.  Ants will never understand human forms of communication and language.
            "So too, we are ants before Hashem.  Hashem can try to explain for 50 years straight, why davka this is happening to me, for example.  But we can never truly understand.
            "Our intelligence can never comprehend this.
"So where does that leave me, a lowly human in my questioning for reasons?
            "After ten years of questioning, I have arrived at a somewhat bittersweet acceptance of the answer.  Belief!
            "We have to believe that Hashem makes no mistakes and wants what is best for us; even if it seems so unrealistic that THIS thing is good for me.  How can this be good for me?  I am paralyzed; I'm always in a wheelchair; I can't breathe on my own; my heart even needs help to beat on time (a pacemaker).
            "How can this situation be understood as Hashem doing what is best for me?
            "Believe me, I can't say this is an easy life, a life that one can easily be grateful for having, but as a believing Jew, I trust in Hashem.   His decision is that there is no other way for me to BE, to exist, in this world.  Hashem asks of us to believe in something we will never understand.  That's it.
            "I want to sharpen this point with another story.  One day students of the Ba'al Shem Tov came to him and asked why are those who do evil rewarded and those who are holy and honest punished in this world. 
            "The Ba'al Shem Tov told them to go to a river at the edge of the town and hide on the side of the way and observe what is happening at noon.
            "The students went and waited by the stream.  They saw a man coming on horseback.  When he reached the riverbank he sat under a tree in the shade to rest and drink a bit of the fresh water.
            "After a while he got up and jumped on his horse to continue on his way.  When he mounted the horse unbeknownst to him a package of money fell from his pocket to the ground.  The man continued on his way crossing the river and going to the next town.
            "A few minutes later a stranger walking on the side of the river reached this spot.  He found the package of money on the ground.  He picked it up, looked inside and joyfully continued on his way.
            "Moments later, another person went by and sat under the same tree to rest.   Meanwhile, the horseman noticed that the money was missing; He panicked and raced back to the spot that he had been at under the tree.  From afar he saw a man sitting under the tree.  He approached him and yelled: "Where is my money, give me back my money".  The hapless man under the tree had no idea why this rider was screaming at him, because he had neither found nor taken any money.  The man told the rider, that he had no idea what he was talking about. 
            "But the rider didn't believe him.  He started to seriously beat him up.  When he saw he wasn't getting anywhere, he re-mounted his horse and went on.
            "In a bit, the wounded limping hapless victim of this unexplainable abuse went on his way.
            "The Ba'al Shem Tov's students returned from this tableau they had just observed.  They went to the Rebbe and said: 'what is this injustice that we just saw.  How could this happen?'
            "The Ba'al Shem Tov responded by telling them a story:
'In a previous incarnation (gilgul) the horseman was a business partner of the man who had found the money.  The rider owed his partner money, but he didn't want to pay.  They went to a din Torah, Rabbinic Court, and the rider knew that he would lose the case, so he bribed the dayan to rule in his favor.
            "What you saw was a resolution of an injustice.  The rider was the person who owed the money to his partner, the one who found the money was the partner to whom the money was owed, and the third man, who was beaten to a pulp, and who seemed to just be a innocent bystander, was the dayan who took the bribe.'
            "Such was the fashion in which the Ba'al Shem Tov demonstrated to his students how their limited view of the events led them to assume that Hashem metes out injustice, the evil are rewarded and the honest are punished.

            "And now to me.  I have spent all these years wondering what happened in my previous incarnation (gilgul), what I am here to correct.  I can only believe with all my soul that I am a part of Hashem's just world."

Dr. Judith Guedaliah Director, Neuropsychology Unit; Senior Medical Psychologist; Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Licensed Psychologist; Supervisor and Specialist in Medical, Rehabilitation, and Developmental Psychology; EMDR Level II, Co-Chair Nefesh Israel. She can be reached through her website: www.drjudithguedalia.com

Chaim K. can be reached at his email: