Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: One Day, One Step, One Breathe at a Time

I participated in the American Lung Association's "Fight for Air Climb" yesterday.  It is always inspiring to participate in these publicity/fund raising events for important issues.  As I have mentioned, breathing issues are very personal to me; having spent time in an oxygen tent myself as a child and now seeing one of my grandsons suffer with similar problems.  On the staircase I also met a woman who son had died just a few years ago from asthma.  So we are all climbing for a purpose.  I also got an unexpected inspiration from my climbing partner.

She has done this and other events hosted by various breathing organizations for years.  One year she volunteered as a "cheer leader" (standing at various floors urging the climbers on -- "you're doing great!  keep it up!") and saw many, many climbers from one team: Kari's Klimbers.  She finally asked someone who this Kari was.  It was the team captain, Steve; and he answered, "I have Kari's lungs."

You can find the whole story and more on his web site, Kari's Gift; but here's the a synopsis.  Kari was a 17 year old high school student and athlete.  She died suddenly from a burst aneurysm.  Kari had indicated on here driver's license that she wanted to be an organ donor.  Steve had been suffering form cystic fibrosis for years and was down to less that 10% lung functionality.  Steve got Kari's lungs.  Steve can now climb all 94 floors -- 1,632 steps -- to the top of the John Hancock Center.  You can imagine how much Steve appreciates each and every breath of air; after all, his lungs were a gift out of the blue.

Our lungs, of course, are also a gift.  We forget to be appreciative, as the Chovos Levavos notes, because we grew up with lungs and have come to take breathing for granted.  As I was preparing to write this, I did a search to what I had written about the importance of being appreciative for the "smallest" things -- even the ability to breathe.  I was stunned... it was twice when I first started writing this blog.  The first was almost 10 years ago while watching my mother die and seeing her struggle for each breath; I titled it: One breath at a time...  The next time was about two weeks later as I was processing my mother's death and preparing myself for the approaching Passover holiday; I titled that one: Dayeinu -- It Would Have Been Enough for Us.

Each and every moment of our lives is an undeserved gift.  Each and every moment is given to us as just one expression of the infinite love with which the Infinite One love us requires constant work.  Which is why the preparation for our daily prayers culminates with that thought.  "kol ha'n'shama t'hallel kah; hallelu'kah"/"Every living thing will praise G-d; Hallelu'ka".  And as theour Sages have elucidated: "al tikra neshama, ele n'shima: b'chol n'shima u'n'shima t'hallel kah" -- "Don't read neshama, rather n'shima (breath); with /for every single breath you should praise G-d."


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…