Rabbi Yosef C. Golding, Executive Director, Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society
It was toward the end of Mincha, when the aveilim gather around the bimah to say Kaddish. The cutest looking four-and-a-half year old was among them. He was wearing a bright blue Yarmulka, tzitzis hanging from under his T-shirt, shorts and colored sneakers. And he was standing on a chair.
He was too young to know the entire Aleph Beis, and he needed help reciting the Kaddish. And help him they did. The adults recited Kaddish word for word -very slowly — to allow the little boy to repeat after them:
I tried to answer Yehei Shmei Rabbah out loud…but couldn’t get the words out. I was overcome with emotion…so ashamed. Until I looked around the small shul and saw there was not a dry eye in the house.
This is not the way it’s supposed to be, is it? Parents who get sick are supposed to recover, aren’t they?
I guess not always.
An experience like this makes one lose all of his excuses for not davening, each and every day, to fervently ask that we and our families remain healthy. For it only takes one wayward cell, commanded by the Ribbono Shel Olom, to create havoc with the other few billion cells in one’s body. And that’s when the dreaded disease rears its ugly head.
So how does one have the strength to work in this field…to even contemplate the tragedies that this disease spawns?
A few years ago, I penned a short article entitled “Three Little Miracles” that described the odyssey and, with the help of HaShem, the ultimate victory of three young cancer patients. This past month, I was informed by several RCCS Patient Advocates of three “BIG” miracles that recently emanated from their desks.
Miracle #1: Almost a year ago, a young man, engaged to be married, arrived from overseas to be treated at a hospital in the Midwest that specializes in cancer treatment. The top surgeon there, after an intense examination, told the young man that there was nothing left for him to do but to return home to die. Accompanied by an insurance policy subsidized by RCCS, wonderful askanim helped this young man obtain non-conventional treatment from a different hospital, up north. After several months of treatment, lab reports showed that the tumor had disappeared. Exploratory surgery was performed and when the pathology reports showed him to be 100% clear of the disease, he exclaimed, “I want to have the wedding now, in the hospital!”.
Miracle # 2: A young lady who was not feeling well went for tests at a local hospital. Upon initial examination, she was told quite forcefully that she had cancer and that it had spread throughout her body. Armed with an RCCS-sponsored insurance policy, she went to a different hospital, recommended by RCCS, to undergo further MRI testing. After a week of mental anguish and agony, she was just as forcefully told that she did not have cancer, but rather, an infection that could be successfully treated in just a few days!
Miracle # 3: A former hemangioma patient began to experience all the signs of recurrence. She began bumping into things, her vision was blurred, and her speech was slurred; the same symptoms she had experienced seven years before when the original tumor was discovered. There was also an obvious mass on her head. The dreadful MRI was scheduled. In the interim, the family celebrated the bris of a newborn boy. As a merit for a refuah sheleimoh, family members undertook various takanosas a z’chus for the cholah. When the day for the MRI came, the bump on her head had totally disappeared. Her symptoms were gone. The MRI showed nothing but normal brain tissue!
It is well known that Harav Shach zt”l spent an inordinate amount of time helping a mentally deficient young man. The Rav explained that the young man needed a miracle, and he hoped that his extra effort would perhaps serve as a merit to enable the miracle to occur.
The Kli Yakar, in Parshas Ki Savo, explains that a private act of kindness, such as giving maaser to the poor, in turn enables the entire world to receive kindness from HaShem.
I humbly suggest that we all take this to heart and perform as many acts of chessed as we can to serve as a catalyst for theRibbono Shel Olam to perform the miracles we so desperately need down here. And to pray to HaShem for many more “BIG” miracles…
Rabbi Golding serves as Executive Director of the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS) which provides an array of services for cancer-stricken patients in need; primary among them is the subsidizing of health insurance premiums, enabling them to obtain the best possible medical care.
This article first appeared at Hamodia and is republished here with permission.