CEO of the EU (Entire Universe)

CEO of the EU (Entire Universe)

Once again, I had the awesome privilege of participating in the birth of a new grandchild. My daughter, who is one of the emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, OBM, in Milan, Italy, came to visit us in L.A. with her family, having planned to deliver her latest baby in our home. Thank G-d, we now we have a new grandson, all 8lb. 10 oz of him, born early on a Tuesday morning.

I have never been at a birth without at least a moment of wonder at the miracle of it all!  Yet, when I say that, I reflect on how casually the world views birth and question whether it sounds like too much of a cliché… "the miracle of birth".. is it really just  "ho hum"?   

Often when something momentous occurs in life and we don’t have the intellectual capacity to reason or logic an explanation, it is reduced to a cliché. What a tragedy this is!  Birth is perhaps the single most wondrous event in our world.  The fact that a new life is created inside our bodies and that we are perfectly built to bring that life into the world… this whole new existence … has been condensed, even somewhat cheapened, by the world into a commonplace happening. 

OK…enough!  Yes, I do rather get on a "soapbox" about the wonder of birth. 

To get on with it, my daughter’s delivery, though expected more or less around the time it happened, took us all by surprise.  How the timing of a birth could surprise me, the midwife who has attended hundreds of births, and my daughter already the mother of many children, is truly a puzzle.  But somehow none of us, including her husband, thought this baby would make his appearance before the Fast of Tisha B’Av (the Ninth day of the month of Av commemorating the Destruction of the Holy Temple), her actual due date. As an aside, fasting triggers labor for many women, creating a somewhat complicated physiological response often resulting in contractions. 

In any case, the baby did, and we were truly surprised!  The real marvel in this scenario, as you will see, is G-d’s decision to juxtapose events that, like the birth of a baby, may not come exactly at the point on the clock when we expect.  Our challenge… my challenge… is simply to appreciate G-d’s creation in all its aspects, even those that don’t come when we want or maybe aren’t at all what we wished for. 

As with the birth of every new Jewish boy we set to planning for the brit, the ritual circumcision that takes place eight days after the birth, and is every Jewish boy’s right as well as his entrance into the people of Israel.  Most of the arrangements were in place for the next morning, Tuesday, when I received a phone call that epitomized the reality that G-d runs the world according to His schedule, not mine.  

My brother in Montreal called to say that our mother had become ill.  I, being the medical person in the family, usually gets the calls regarding decisions surrounding our 89 year-old Mother, and so I told him to take her to the emergency room immediately.  In his next phone call my brother informed us that the medical staff in the ER said she wouldn’t make it through the night, G-d forbid!  Apparently a major infection had developed affecting her entire body, and her blood pressure was quickly and seriously dropping… not a reassuring picture.   

My reality suddenly took on a surrealistic quality…  On the one hand, I was searching for an emergency flight to Montreal. On the other, I was discussing color schemes with the caterer!  Talk about "wearing different hats"! 

The absurdity of finalizing mundane plans for the brit (blue vs. brown paper plates???) superimposed itself on the urgency to get to my Mother.  Chassiduth teaches us that everything that happens is from G-d -- and that everything that happens is for the good.  Many of us can maintain this thought intellectually, but speaking for myself the task of believing this in my "gut" at that moment seemed monumental.   OK, I could accept that this all is from G-d, but how could it be good?   

There is a story of the Alter Rebbe, the first Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. As a young man he and his colleagues were engaged in a deep discussion.  The question at hand was how each would change the world if they were in charge.  Each person had their ideas.  One would end suffering, another eliminate illness, one would assure that everyone’s materials needs were met, and so on.  When the Alter Rebbe’s turn came, he surprised everyone by saying that he wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, he wanted G-d to continue running the world just as He saw fit!  The Alter Rebbe explained that as human beings, limited by our physical bodies and intellect, we can’t possibly have the vision and scope of awareness that belongs to the Creator. 

Although in our eyes something may appear good, we can’t possibly know how many layers of Creation that particular action effects and of course vice-versa, with something that appears bad.  Once again we face the truth that G-d, and only G-d, knows what He is doing. Both ultimately and immediately everything is for our own good, even though we may not ever "get it". 

While my husband was looking for flights, I spoke to my mother’s doctor, who was quite responsive, and formulated a plan which was communicated to physicians in the ER.  I also took the other very important step I’ve been taught -- the only thing  I could do at this moment being so many miles away.  I called many friends and asked them to say Tehillim (Psalms), which we are told can cause a negative decree to be averted. They, in turn, asked many other friends to do the same, all for the immediate healing of my Mother, Flora Gittel bas Sarah Zelda. 

Most poignant was the image of my grandchildren sitting together, even the five year-old, saying Tehillim for the healing of their "Big Bubby".   

Just then the phone rang and this time the news was reassuring. Her blood pressure was going up and her infection seemed treatable. 

This story has two happy endings, thank G-d.  The next morning, we celebrated the brit of our newest grandson, Levi Yitzchak.  The energy was so powerful, with friends and family rejoicing not only in our Simcha but also voicing prayers and wishes for the continued healing of my mother.  Since she had rallied so strongly, I could postpone my trip for a few days.  When I arrived in Montreal, it was with surprise and delight that I found my mother stronger and clearer than she had been in the past few years, thank G-d. 

Hashem blessed us that day, allowing us to celebrate at both ends of the life spectrum.  We are very grateful, to say the least, that we were able to see the goodness and appreciate the miracles with our eyes.   

In my wallet I carry a little saying cut out from an article many years ago.  It reads "Our bodies teach us that we are not in control".  G-d showed me that truth with such clarity: babies come when He wants them to; people get sick and are healed when He wants them to.  From my side, I need to do what Hashem has told me to, but I am not in control of the outcome.  My work in this lifetime is to follow the path He has set for me, and I ask to merit the privilege of seeing His goodness in a revealed way.   

I have a responsibility to pray and do whatever I can to effect that outcome, but ultimately I know that the world is not run by me, but by the One who created it.  And if the truth be known, I think He does a much better job than any of us could possibly do!

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