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Thought for the Day: Once a Jew, Always a Jew

Cardiac bypass surgery is really a modern miracle.  50 years ago it was brand new and the odds of survival were about 50/50.  I know that because my grandfather, alav hashalom, was told that he had six months or less to live unless he had that surgery.  Not being a gambler, he took the six months "sure" thing.  By the time my father, alav hashalom, was offered the surgery it had become so common place that it wasn't even a question.  That surgery gave him 13 years of quality life.  What did he pay (besides the money, of course) for that miracle cure?

Dad had the surgery early Wednesday morning and I arrived about 10:00AM, just as he was getting into recovery.  I had expected lots of tubes and monitoring.  I had not expected so many tubes, especially that big one coming right out of the middle of his chest.  I also didn't expect his coloring.  I've done taharas and I had never seen a live person that color before.  The doctor explained to me the procedure: open chest, break though rib cage, toss in lots of ice chips (same stuff you get from 7-Eleven, but medical grade so it costs $1,000 instead of $1.50) to stop the heart, quickly and carefully redo the plumbing (by which time the ice has melted and the heart has started again), then close.  So he really had essentially been dead and was now recovering.  After a (mostly...) uneventful few days, he was released and I went home.  Truly a miracle.

When Adam haRishon ate from the eitz ha'da'as tov v'ra, he became mortal.  The organism (humanity) continued getting sicker and sicker until only a portion could be saved.  Klal Yisrael entered Hospital Mitzrayim for our miracle surgery.  The end of the procedure was to hook us up to tubes and hoses... known to us as "torah and mitzvos".  Each and every mitzvah is a life supporting and life giving connection to the source of life and author of reality, haKadosh Baruch Hu.  That "surgery" transformed and elevated us in a way that is irreversible.

That means there is no "opting out"; a Jew can't stop being a Jew.  If a Jew stops putting on t'fillin, he is yanking the tube from his arm.  If he stops keeping kosher, he is removing the feeding tube.  If he stops keeping Shabbos, he is pulling that tube right out of the chest.  If he practices a foreign religion, he is yanking out the respirator tube.  He is not freeing himself from torah and mitzvos; he is denying himself the nourishment and medicine he needs for a complete recovery for a full life in Olam haBa.

If you ever think about being involved with kiruv (and you should, by the way), you need to realize that you are not helping someone have a more fulfilling life.  You are saving them from a tragic death; you are giving them life itself!  You aren't surprised I went to help my father like that.  We would all do that and more for (lo aleinu) our children.  "Banim atem laShem" -- Klal Yisrael are all children of HaShem.  That's not just another Jew you are helping; that's your brother.

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