Sunday, February 21, 2010

Heart to Heart with Myself

Over the past month or so, it seems like an disproportionate number of the Tehillim requests I've received have been for heart-related issues. A baby boy was born in my community with a heart defect. (Thank God, it has been properly repaired and he is doing very well.) A girl I know from my year in Israel had a baby girl, also with a heart defect, but much more severe. Twin newborn girls in Israel have just undergone open heart surgery. And just before Shabbos we began davening for the teenage daughter of a close family friend in my parents' community who, though healthy until now, is having some sort of heart problems. ** (Names for Tehillim are at the end of the article.)

And it's hitting me hard. Having a child of my own now, I understand the depth of love one has for a being they helped create and plan to raise. I cannot imagine the pain of seeing that child hooked up to monitors and tubes, waiting with bated breath to hear the doctors reports.

So it got me thinking. What message could I take from this? What is it about hearts- my heart, the collective Jewish heart- that needs to be fixed? Am I not loving enough toward my family members? Do I have a closed heart toward Jews who are different from me, in their practices or beliefs? What about my self-love, or my love of Hashem? Am I not putting my heart into the mitzvos I do daily?

I could go on and on. But instead of sinking into despair, I'm trying to be more aware of my thoughts throughout the day. Just as the physical heart functions to keep the body running, my inner heart is what fuels my actions, via my thoughts and feelings. The cardiovascular issues that these people are facing are constantly at the forefront of their minds, affecting their daily lives. Maybe it's time I paid a little more attention to the goings-on in my heart, in regard to others, myself, and God.

We should only hear good news.

** Please say Tehillim for:
Shalva Yakira bas Yardena Meira
Ayelet bas Eliraz
Miriam bas Eliraz
Yona Menucha bas Leah Chana


  1. Beautifully said. May they all have a refuah shleimah.

  2. What message could I take from this? What is it about hearts- my heart, the collective Jewish heart- that needs to be fixed?

    It would be more helpful to donate ten bucks to the American Heart Association or to lobby your government to spend more on the NIH.

    Religion-based reasoning based on sloppy metaphors might help you treat people a little more kindly, which is nice, but it's really got nothing to do with heart defects in babies, does it?

    Before you accuse me of cynically seizing on this opportunity to attack religion, stop and think about whether I'm right. Ten bucks towards cardiac medical research is infinitely more helpful in preventing and treating future heart problems than this feel-good magical thinking.

  3. Not that you can't do both, of course. :-) It just bugs me when people take symbolic actions when practical ones are available.

    It also bugs me when people thank God but not the doctors when God (if you believe in him) gave the baby a heart defect and the human doctors fixed it. Again, you could thank both.

  4. JA - I'm pretty sure most of the time, people do thank both.