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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Accepting New Limitations

(This post contains many religious Jewish references.  My apologies to those for whom this post is unclear)

I cried.

I love reading Torah.  Every year, I schlep my famiy to Baka/Talpiot, so that I can celebrate Simchat Torah the way I want.

I always read V'Zot HaB'racha

This year, in addition, I was offered the opportunity to read B'reishit for the Kallat HaTorah.  At least I had the forsight to make sure I had a back-up.

It took me longer than usual to learn the reading of B'reishit

I had no problem reading V'Zot HaB'racha. Like I told the coordinator, I can read that in my sleep. But the melody for B'reishit just flew out of my brain, as if I had not prepared at all.  I could not remember the notes.

Plain and simple, my memory is no longer what it used to be. I cannot avoid the simple, painful fact that I can no longer volunteer to read Torah.

Accepting this new limitation is really tough. 

Reading Torah has always been a profoundly moving, religious experience for me.  Nothing else has ever made me feel so intensely connected to God.  I really feel like I am God's mouthpiece, bringing His words directily to His people.

I take reading Torah accurately very seriously.  I am dilligent about correctly pronouncing the words and singing the cantellations.

I deeply love reading Torah.

To my great disappointment, I find that I can no longer read at a level that is acceptible to me.

In the scheme of things, this might seem like a fairly benign loss.

For me, this marks a significant limitation and really brings home the feeling of loss and disability that accompany cancer.
Crying helped me share with God just how sad I am.  It also helped me to accept that I need to take a step back and let someone else take over. 

It is hard.... really hard....

I know that, in time, I will learn to accept this new reality, as I have accepted previous changes and limitations.

For now, I am still sad.

I am not quite done crying yet....

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Baila said...

When my daughter was sick, and started to lose her hair, she cried as she had not yet cried until then. I told her to cry all she needed to until there were no more tears left to be shed, and that when she was done crying she would be ready again to face the disease with everything she has.

Just know that I (and so many others) cry with you, just as we laugh with you when those moments come. We are listening, and wishing and praying for your health.

mikimi said...

you are allowed to cry in sadness and frustration and it would be abnormal if you didn't.
refua sheleima-and complete and quick.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that many women had you in their prayers (both silent and out loud)when we made a misheberach for cholim and cholot at the women's tefila/torah reading in Maale Adumim today.

Gila said...

Oh, I am so sorry sweetie. :(

Mindy said...

I am so sorry, RivkA. It seems when you adjust to one loss, you are hit with another. Praying for you today and that the Torah will still give you joy as you reflect on these things in your heart, even though you cannot participate publically.

Sarah B. said...

I missed you at Shir Chadash last night.

Bernie said...

RivkA I am sorry this has happened to you, is there someway you can get the Torah on a CD so that you can listen to it as you rest. I know it won't be the same as saying the words yourself but it may help a bit....keeping you in my heart and prayers......:-) Hugs

Anonymous said...

RivkA, very sorry to hear that you are sad. You are in my prayers. May you have a full and speedy recovery! I know this is a little off topic but you write beautifully...

Batya said...

This must be so hard for you.
רפואה שלימה

michele said...

For those of us who have heard you read Torah so beautifully, this is indeed a loss. I hope you can find some comfort in the fact that you still inspire many of us to be closer to Hashem through your actions and words.

rickismom said...

It is not just the fact that you can not read. Any progression of symptoms can easily and correctly be read as a threat, and cause distress.
May HaShem give you strength.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your sadness. The dignity and the wisdom of your acceptance are as inspiring as the courage you show when resisting adversity.

InsomniacMedic said...

Have only (fairly) recently started following your writings, and have to say that they, and you, are inspirational. Whilst as a paramedic I deal daily with trauma, sadness, hardship and sometimes triumph over adversity, I can, at the end of every day, go home and leave the worries behind.
Your courage is remarkable, and I can only hope that, along with your unerring belief and optimism, it will carry you forward for a long time yet.

Ilana said...

You know I really "get it." It is a painful loss. Sending hugs.

Bee said...

I can so understand what you are saying, like you being called up to read Torah is a blessing, a privilege, an honour and once I know the reading I spend hours standing in my dining room reading the portion and making sure I get it 100% right. There is just something about it that is so so special. My heart breaks for you not being able to do this anymore and I know that you readings have blessed so many people. I will take you along with me in my heart when I am blessed this way again. I am sure God was listening to your crying and I know he wiped away your tears. If I could take away even an ounce of your pain I would, you are never far from my mind and I think of you and send you positive thoughts and gentle hugs.


Anonymous said...

After thinking about this post for a day or two, it has occurred to me that this might be only a short-term limitation: while and shortly after having WBR, or while you are in so much pain. Don't write yourself off from leining in the future!

Kol tuv,


Anonymous said...

I am crying with you.....

RivkA with a capital A said...

Baila - Sounds like good advice. In my case, there are often new developments that cause new reasons to cry...... In general, I prefer to laugh about it all, but sometimes the tears just come anyway.

Mikimi - I would not presume to determine what is normal or abnormal for any individual, but I do believe that it is is healthy to cry.

Anon (from Ma'aleh Adumim) - wow, that is so wonderful! Thank you for letting me know!

Gila - yeah, me too.

MommaMindy - Thank you. It would not be accurate to say that I can no longer participate publicly. I can still participate, just in different ways. This limitation is a loss, but not one that is absolute. Most Orthodox religious women never have the chance to read from the Torah. I have been blessed to participate in that way for almostt 25 years!
God is a constant source of joy and strength for me, and God's Torah is a continual source of encouragement and inspiration.
I lean on God a lot, and speak with Him constantly.

Sarah B - yeah, I missed you too. It was disappointing not to be there, but I just could not do both. The women's tefilah was most important to me, so I chose to stay as close as I could to their location. I did not even attend shul in the evening, which is a first for me. We had a wonderful time with our host, who hosted us for dinner as well. And we had a lovely lunch too.

Bernie - You are so sweet. It does not really work that way in Judaism. On the holidays, we do not turn on or off electricity. Also, the communal aspect of a public Torah reading is a key element in our celebration. So a CD would not really work. But thank you for the cretive and thoughtful suggestion.

Anon - thanks

Batya - it is, but I will come to accept it.

Michele - I do, thank you.

Ricki's Mom - you hit the nail on the head!

Anon - Thank you

Insomniac Medic - amen!

Square Peg 613 - I know you do! Thanks!!

Bee -- I could not have said it better! You touched my heart. Thank you.

Na'amah - perhaps, but I noticed the difficulty beginning months ago. It might be a combination of "over 40," radiation, and chemo -- all these factors can affect our memories. But, I am happy to hold onto the hope that I will get past it.... ;-)

Anon - thanks, but I am done crying for now. How 'bout we laugh together from now on?

Der Shygetz said...


I guess I did it for you, all the way out in Ukraine - and after a glass of 96% alcohol for kiddush at that! (It was my first time ever reading more than three aliyas as I am not really a baal korei but I do pinch hit when I happen to be in a minyan at an odd hour on a Mon or Thurs and well, I got away with my performance for VZHBrocho, Breishis AND the Haftoroh because simchas Torah in Chabad is what it is)! Refuah shelema!

mrg & grm said...

Oh RivkA I'm so sorry about the Torah reading. It _is_ a real loss but I hope that treatment helps and that you get back to it someday.