Ginger, devastated by a personal disappointment, attempts suicide; in the hospital, she meets Marti – a non-Jewish girl wearing a Star of David...
First of all, I want to thank Rabbi Brody for giving me the opportunity to express myself. I was a heartbeat away from suicide; my story could save others from a similar fate. I sank in a quicksand mire of anger, depression, frustration, and bitterness. The Almighty had pity on me, and in His infinite mercy pulled me out to safety; maybe, so I could live to tell this story.
I was a picture postcard coed. Not only was I a cheerleader at Auburn, but I was an honors graduate in economics. I completed an MBA at Wharton up north in twelve months. Every job I interviewed for wanted me. Homesick, I finally decided to accept a promising junior executive training position in one of Alabama's most prestigious banking institutions.
With my bright star still on the rise, I started playing tennis with what I thought was a dream of a man – 3 years older than me, very smart, very good-looking, very athletic, and super successful – "Tom". Often, he'd leave his office and pick me up from work. Since my roommate and best friend (at the time) was also a tennis player, she and her boyfriend would play doubles against Tom and me, followed by dinner and more jolly times. Who could ask for more?
The bubble burst when I went away to visit friends at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I was supposed to be away for a week, but I came down with the flu and preferred to feel miserable at home. I walked in the door of my apartment 48 hours ahead of schedule, and lo and behold, discovered Tom (who two weeks earlier had asked me to marry him and I agreed) in a very intimate position with my roommate.
I nearly fainted. The double treachery of my fiancé and my best friend was unexpected to say the least and far more than I could handle. I moved out on the spot.
My life became a house of dominoes that caved in. I went from a foxy 126 pounds to a 98 pound bag of bourbon-drinking and pill-popping misery. I quit my job before they fired me, but the worse is yet to come: The Almighty, in His mercy (that often looks like cruelty), made me run into my former roommate at least once a week, sometimes in the store, the post office, or wherever. Every time I saw her, it was like treason night and a knife in my heart all over again. After seeing her in the car with Tom at the gas station, I went home, drank three shots of bourbon and then took a dozen 10 mg valium pills. I was punching out of life.
The Almighty had other ideas and delayed my funeral. Instead, I woke up in the hospital at the University of Alabama in Birmingham with a pumped stomach and hooked up to a respirator. In a cloud, I heard a doctor telling my mom and dad that they were lucky that I was alive.
A few days went by, and I was still hospitalized. Between the overdose and the booze – my pitiful attempt at suicide – I had suffered a terrible seizure. In the same room, a sweet and a little-bit shy young lady in her late 20's was recovering from a stomach operation. The difference between her and me is that she was always smiling, but I wasn't especially happy to still be here on earth. The other difference is that while I was Baptist, she wore a star of David around her neck.
The nurses called her Marti, a nickname for Martha. Marti – my neighbor in the adjacent hospital bed with the star of David around her neck – was from the Nashville area and here in the Birmingham vicinity visiting her aunt. Marti's appendix had burst, contaminating her system with enough toxins to pollute the Choctawhatchee Bay. She had also barely escaped attending her own funeral. So here we were, side by side, both recuperating from major traumas to our bodies. The difference was that Marti was smiling and humming all day long, and I was depressed and obnoxious. She was happy to be alive, and I wasn't.
I never realized how much of an egotist I was until I met Marti. I was always the center of attraction, the brightest in the class and the best-looking. The show was about me and me only. That bubble had burst. I was now looking like a vampire that suffered from malnutrition. My parents were devastated, panic-stricken and heartbroken; they cried the whole duration of their visits. I had to speak with someone else.
Like a gift from God, Marti was the best listener I ever met. She said nothing about herself unless I asked direct questions. She had the warmest, kindest demeanor I ever encountered and her shyness gave her the aura of a rare gem that you don't show to anyone on a street corner. She wrote gorgeous poetry and played the piccolo. Just being with her was soothing.
When I mustered up enough nerve, I asked her about the star of David around her neck. I had Jewish friends up at Wharton, but they seemed far-removed from religion. Marti surprised me by telling me that she's not Jewish, but a Noahide. I had to excuse my ignorance, for I didn't know the difference between a Noahide and a Lilliputian. She explained to me that she was born into a southern Baptist home (almost identical to mine), but with all due respect, she couldn't swallow their notion of religion and faith. She explained to me about the Old Testament, Mosaic Law, and Torah ethics, particularly the seven Noahide commandments. I was enthralled with her explanations, like a thirsty soul drinking fresh cool water from a bubbling brook.
I asked Marti why she didn't convert if she loves the Jewish Torah so much. She answered that the Torah was given to the Jews, but really it's everybody's Torah. Second, she said that her rabbi advises her to live her life as a righteous Noahide rather than as a convert struggling to keep hundreds of commandments.
"Rabbi? You have a rabbi?" I asked. She took a book out of her bed stand and showed it to me, telling me that the author is her rabbi. "Does he speak to non-Jews?" I asked. She then showed me a stack of email responses she had received to a variety of questions, ranging from meditation to career goals to husband hunting.
Marti, who had already heard the story of the double betrayal by my fiancé and former roommate, then told me the amazing story of how she had been molested as a child by one of the most respected members of their church. The whole thing was hushed up, and she was left with all the post traumatic baggage. I couldn't believe how honey-sweet Marti confessed to being a silent time-bomb of revenge, hatred, and compulsion to even the score of twenty years ago when she was a tender little princess of nine. She had even taken gun lessons (piccolo-playing Marti!) entertaining a sadistic dream of destroying her tormentor, who still freely roamed the streets of Nashville as a respected clergyman and citizen. She too had experienced her scars torn wide open every time she heard his name, much less see him. She then opened the book in her hand to Chapter 5.
"Read this, Ginger. It showed me how to make peace with God, how He does everything for the best." I took the book, entitled "The Trail to Tranquility," and chug-a-lugged chapter 5 in one gulp. Rita Richards at the end of the chapter looked just like me. The book penetrated straight to my soul like a spiritual intravenous transfusion. I then flew back to the beginning of the book, and read the whole thing from cover to cover in less than five hours, savoring each word.
After reading the book a second time and a third, my thinking did a 180. My brain clicked on like a light bulb. I suddenly realized what a gift from God that I had discovered Tommy's infidelity before getting married rather than down the road as a pregnant wife with 2 small youngins. I began to understand how the seemingly worst things in my life were really concealed gifts. I learned the true notion of faith, "emuna" as the author calls it. I became privy to a treasure of traditional wisdom that I never knew existed, rooted in the rabbinical masters of yesteryear, particularly the Rebbe of Breslev. I learned all about my soul and its needs.
Allow me to fast-forward twelve months. Marti and I are still best friends. Following my rabbi's advice, I have made a new start in a new area, and have virtually wiped the bitterness from my heart. I am totally alcohol and drug free, and I'm building a new career. I've become a Noahide, just like Marti, and one of (I'm sure) of many that has made Rabbi Lazer Brody my spiritual advisor. His book The Trail to Tranquility has saved my life, simply speaking with no exaggeration. If you feel stressed and angry, it could save your life too. It's only proper that I offer my humble gratitude to the Lord of Israel for helping me find a rabbi on the other end of the earth that cares whether about mending the broken heart of a total stranger. As they say in tennis, some people talk a good game, others play a good game.
It's mindboggling how everything's for the best. If I hadn't been in the hospital, I'd never have met Marti. If I'd never of met Marti, I'd have probably never become a Noahide that discovered the vault of Jewish wisdom (particularly The Trail to Tranquility) that would be the agent of my personal rescue.
Thank you for indulging, dear readers. I agree with what David Soul (the original “Hutch” from Starssky & Hutch) said about Rabbi Lazer Brody: He belongs to humanity. With deepest feelings of respect and gratitude, Ginger (now somewhere in metropolitan Texas)
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams)