From Ordeal to Opportunity
I was walking across the street that Friday morning, when everything changed in an instant. Thank G-d that I was alive to come home Friday two weeks later…
It happened so fast that I didn’t know what hit me. I saw the walk sign and was walking across the street when suddenly I felt an irresistible force against my right side lift me from the ground. I was thrown in the air and made a crash landing, hitting my shoulder and head on the pavement. I laid flat on my back in the middle of the road, on a busy section of Market Street in downtown Philadelphia. Fortunately, some bystanders quickly helped me to the curb.
When I got to the hospital, I soon found out that this was serious stuff. I was brought to the trauma room with numerous people working on me, shouting instructions to each other, with machines beeping and buzzing all around me. That Friday night I was carried from stretchers to beds to tables in various rooms. All this movement caused tremendous pain.
Throughout this I kept reciting Psalm 100, , the Psalm of Thanksgiving. I kept thanking Hashem again and again for what happened and for all this pain. I supplemented this by saying affirmations like “Hashem rules, Hashem ruled, Hashem will rule forever; With every breath I will praise Hashem; I choose the path of ; There is no One but Him; and I will fear no evil for You are with Me.” In short, I said anything that came to my mind to remind me that Hashem was right there with me in my distress. Finally, I recalled the famous saying by Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi that anyone who accepts tribulations with love can bring salvation to the world.
I may have asked Hashem to heal me but I don’t recall doing so. My main focus was to thank Him and feel His presence. Without these spiritual resources, I don’t know how I could have gotten through that night and the following few days.
Meanwhile, as my family and friends found out about the accident, there was an emergency recitation of and many people began praying for me. This was a difficult and unsettling situation for all of us.
Miraculously, despite everything that happened, there was no neurological damage and I ended up with an assortment of broken bones that are healing without surgery. Moreover, after a few days of extreme pain, I was able to stop taking pills without a resurgence of intense pain. I was able to go home, Erev Shabbat, after a one-week stay in the hospital and a week stay in a rehab facility. I don’t know any other way to account for this outcome and pace of recovery other than the prayers of my rabbis, family, friends and coworkers along with my following Rabbi Arush’s teaching to say thank you for my tribulations.
I was the beneficiary of tremendous kindness from the compassionate and skilled professionals at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Magee Rehabilitation. These were amazing people from varied races, religions and national backgrounds. I enjoyed sharing my personal history and listening to many of their remarkable personal stories.
I tried to act as a good representative of Hashem and the Jewish people. I expressed my heartfelt gratitude and thanked them for helping me. I frequently explained that Hashem loves each person like an only child. I pointed out that they are emulating Hashem by acting in a kind and compassionate manner towards His children. As a result of the kind acts they do for me and many others, Hashem will do great kindness for them. I described what a wonderful gift it is to be able to talk to the Creator and how our loving Father in Heaven wants to hear from each of His beloved children every day.
I frequently quoted Rabbi Arush who writes in the Universal Garden of Emuna that you don’t not need a PHD in Genealogy to understand that if people have the same Father, then they are brothers and sisters who can live in peace and harmony. I believe that the only way to counteract darkness is with light and I’m hopeful that in my own small way I was able to offset some of the racial and religious tensions impacting our country and reveal the light of Hashem’s Kingship.
As for me, I realize that a Father does not put a son through a tribulation like being hit by a car with the expectation that the son goes back to business as usual. Due to the compassion of Hashem, I do not need surgery for my injuries. However, it’s clear that I need some spiritual surgery. When something dramatic like this happens, I believe that Hashem is expecting dramatic improvements. At the same time, I realize that the needed improvements require sustained work and lots of prayer over a significant period of time. I’m going to be doing a lot of contemplation during the month of Elul trying to discern the message from Hashem and how He wants me to improve.
A big risk is repeating the approach of prior years and making a laundry list of areas where I need to improve. All too often, this only resulted in minimal improvements across the board. Based on the teachings of Rabbi Arush in the book A New Light (which I have been summarizing and hope to continue to add to the series soon) I believe I need to focus on one area at a time. Even though I must leave other flaws to be not addressed for the time being, concentrating on one area at a time is the proven formula for success. Moreover, our Father in Heaven does not expect us to correct everything at once. He knows that’s not possible. As long as we are working on one major area at a time, he will be patient with us and take joy in our efforts at gradual and continuous improvement.
I’m going to try hard to turn this challenging experience into one of the best things that ever happened to me – to turn this ordeal into an opportunity for real personal and spiritual growth. I want to use this to become stronger spiritually and improve my service to Hashem day by day. In the meantime, as I go to physical therapy in order to regain my health and strength, I am going to practice spiritual therapy to enhance my gratitude, humility and .
Click here to read more about Dennis Rosen’s Spiritual Therapy exercises.