ImageThe Bitul
Bottle
Shabbos can be so sweet. Every week for about
14 years I have studied with  my Rebbe and friend.  For
the past few years, I have picked him up at 0800hrs. We chat and
laugh and I have the honor and pleasure of going with him to the
home of a friend and we study for a couple of hours and then go and
daven. It is a routine and ritual that is comfy and joyful. As part
of the ritual, my belovedest (my wife, partner and friend) puts a
bottle of lavender water in the cup holder for ‘da Rebbe’ He laughs
and blesses her in abstentia, reminding me again of how special she
is. Of late I have received a powerful reminder (though none was
needed) of how incredibly special she is to me. She has been
diagnosed with cancer. We are supporting her as she goes
through this procedure that will אי׳ה cure her. She and we who love
her so much are sometimes filled with worry and fear and anger, all
the emotions that I have seen and through which I have counseled
others. We reach out to the Wholly One of Being. And we discover G
in some wild and wonderful places. One of those places is an empty
bottle. The Shabbos after we learned the frightening news that my
belovedest has cancer of the throat I showed up at my Rebbe’s home
to go and study and daven. As always and despite the devastating
revelation of the week, my belovedest, as she does on every
Shabbos, sent along a bottle of Lavender water. The Rebbe’s
reaction this time was different. When I handed him the bottle as
is our ritual, he took it in his hands, bowed his head and
whispered prayers. I could not hear most of what he said, though I
think that I heard the words רפואה שלימה   (Refuah
Shlemah – a harmonious and complete healing) in his prayers. 
Was it my imagination that his eyes were moist? He turned to me and
gave me my ‘marching orders’. I was told to take the bottle back to
Hedvah and she was to drink it. When I returned home, I handed it
to my confused wife. When I explained what our Rebbe had said and
done, she was moved by his gesture. She went into the Sukkah, sat
quietly for a while and drank the water that had been blessed by
Reb Zalman. I wish that I could say that she was miraculously
healed, but that is not the way of things. I have faith that, after
the many weeks of excruciatingly painful radiation treatments, she
will be healed and whole. After drinking the water under the leafy
canopy of the Sukkah she put the bottle in the Sukkah where it
remained for the rest of Sukkot. Sukkot has ended. The ‘walls’ and
frame are put away. The etrog and lulav are placed pleasingly to
the eye around our home. And the bottle remains, a personal
reminder in our home of faith and hope and love. Now this amazing
woman is facing this terrible test. This אשת חיל  this warrior
woman, woman of valor is frightened. She is not afraid of the
worst. Her real fear is to be a burden. She, who is always
concerned with the needs of others, is still concerned with the
needs of others. She doesn’t want to ask for help. She doesn’t want
to put us in a difficult position. Her faith in HaShem is so deep
that this test is not a challenge to that faith. Instead there is a
(and I feel strange saying this) beauty that radiates from deep
inside. She is transparent. In
Kabbalah there is an amazing concept: ביטול היש.  It is
usually translated as the nullification of the self before G. Our
Rebbe interprets it as making our souls transparent before G.
During this terrible trial we who love her and are here to support
my belovedest are becoming more aware of this transparency. I
believe that every experience in life is a test and a lesson. We
take the tests and in time the lessons present themselves. In this
case, with this woman, a few of the lessons are becoming visible
through her through her transparency, to me. And every day I give
thanks for her presence in my life and the blessings that she
embodies. As we move forward, I will be writing about the challenge
that my belovedest I facing and the lessons that we are learning
from tests taken. You can find updates on this blog, the page Hedvah: Our Joy.
One of these lessons is the humility to ask. I have trouble asking.
Even now as I write this, I am having trouble formulating the
words. Since Hedvah is going through this long and painful
procedure, we are in need. We need your prayers and good thoughts.
And we need Tzedaka. The expenses of returning to health are
staggering. And there are the day to day expenses of life for a
family that is experiencing anything but day to day life. Anything
that you, who are reading, this could contribute would mean so much
to us. Tax deductible
contributions can be made to: NCHD
Mark in the lower left corner “Davis
family”
Send to: Eve
llsen
1720 Lehigh St.
Boulder, CO 80305

 

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