Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shavua Tov Od HaPa'am

Syag LeChochmah Shtikah -
Silence is a Protective Fence for Wisdom
"If silence is only a protective fence for wisdom, what does wisdom itself consist of?
Wisdom consists of the ability to communicate even in silence. There are, unfortunately, incidents when people suffer tragic losses. Many people avoid the bereaved person because they are ill at ease in the mourner's presence. What can one say to a mourning parent who has, G-d forbid, lost a child to illness or accident? Because people feel awkward about having nothing to say, they tend to stay away.
The stricken person needs the tiny bit of solace that he can derive from others empathizing with him. There is no need to say anything. Do not avoid a suffering person just because you feel you have nothing to say. Your being there is a communication that you care."
- Rabbi Abraham Twerski,
Living Each Day, 1988, pg. 303
I often think about and sometimes share the thought cited above. I think it that one of the most important lessons in life is to learn how important it is to be with someone, whether or no words or exchanged. Many times the fact is that words aren't wanted or needed and the lack of them is nothing negative, but not being there is a negative. I have found that adolescents in particular (though no human doesn't like some company) like to have adults near by but an arms length away and not speaking.
Two months ago I wrote (fifth paragraph of this post) about a man with Parkinson's disease who shared with me about his experiences. He is nonplussed with the medical profession. As he sees it they are more open to prescription medication than to caring and healing. He once called his (former) doctor and left a message asking what the doctor knew and thought about a new, not yet approved, medication. The secretary called back and said that the doctor told her to tell him that it's not FDA approved and that he shouldn't take it. My friend was furious. When he finally spoke to the doctor directly and the doctor continued to not answer his question he told the doctor that the doctor's response was one that my friend might give to someone else, if it wasn't he who had the ailment, and he didn't like the other person. It's remarkable how much this man has persevered and not only survived but thrived. He has not only helped himself but others and hopes to do more. It has come to my friend's attention that one of the founders of Google has the Parkinson's gene and has invested a lot in Parkinson's research. He wrote to him. I hope his letter is read and he gets an answer and continues to survive, thrive (he climbs mountains!) and help others.
David Steinberg, not the actor. David Steingberg is the name of a guy who is about 40 now, I imagine. I met him in the summer of, I think '91. I was an advisor for a break off from Jerusalem Fellowships called International Conference on Jewish Leadership. It was a wonderful 6 week (I'm guesstimating) program for thirty college students. About three days into it I asked this guy his name and he snapped at me, saying he wasn't going to tell me again because it was the third time I asked him. It was an experience. And so I remember his name to this day. I remember through experiencing strongly things that I experience stay with me, and it doesn't feel like remembering - it just feels like the thing staying with me. I have a really hard time with names, dates, times - unless they're connected directly - in my soul - to a strong experience. I have the bad habit of wanting to be experienced strongly and thus remembered by others. This leads to disappointment. Sigh.


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