I’ve written in the past about a wonderful woman who visits the chemo treatment ward handing out snacks, drinks, smiles and a good word to anyone who wants, regardless of what they might look like or what language they may speak.
This past Monday I got to know her a little bit.
Miri Gabai is (I’m guessing) an approximately 50-year-old woman, happily married, and
with three children. When she speaks, offering blessings of health and happiness, it’s easy to see she’s the “real thing.” When we asked her why she does what she does, she sat with us for a few minutes and shared with us, how for 10 years, she couldn’t conceive. With a smile, she told us about her husband (“A gorgeous man,” she said. “Brad Pitt doesn’t even compare to my husband’s shoes!” How this ultra-orthodox woman knew to reference Brad Pitt is a topic for a future post, I guess…), who swore he would never leave her, even after they visited doctors and fertility clinics, and all the experts told her there is no way she would ever have children.
Miri described the night she went to go visit Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, to ask him what to do, seeking answers to the very simple question of how she – clearly a true believer – could be denied the ability to have children. The rabbi listened to her with compassion and told her simply, “God doesn’t owe you anything.”
Miri was stunned.
“But,” the rabbi went on, “I have an idea. If you take care of God’s children, maybe he will take care of yours.”
So, Miri began volunteering in a hospital, visiting those in need, bringing smiles, blessings and good cheer.
Now, with a married son and teenage twin daughters, she continues to take care of complete strangers, visiting them in person, calling (she took Tammy’s number) and sending out holiday cards (she took our address).
On the way home, Tammy and I talked about Miri and getting some friends to help fund her efforts (She has no organization, no email, so it might be a bit of a challenge other than bringing her some cash for when we see her next.) and I remarked how incredible it was that the good rabbi’s simple message smacked Miri into action that ultimately led to her fulfilling what she described as her one and only dream.
Tammy and I agreed that we wish we could be a bit more like Miri, with pure, unflinching faith in God. And Tammy pointed out that if one doesn’t believe in God with devotion like Miri’s, how do we explain that she defied a medical certainty? Answering her own question, she said: “Maybe there is something to this whole ‘positive attitude’ thing.”