DIVINE PROVIDENCE AT ITS FINEST: G-D’S MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION IN MY LIFE
BY ARIELLA BRACHA
We are now in the month of Adar II, because it is a leap year. According to our tradition, Haman’s plot to kill the Jews during the month of Adar took place in a leap year. Adar is the month in which we celebrate the holiday of Purim. Purim is all about our miraculous deliverance by G-d from our enemies. The Rabbis state that the essence of Purim is all about G-d’s constant interaction with every aspect of our lives. Our sages teach that there is no month as joyous as Adar, due to the many hidden miracles and the profound blessings that came about as a result of those miracles. Divine Providence is how G-d interacts with the world. The month of Adar reveals Divine Providence at its finest.
I love it that G-d’s Divine Providence is overseeing the details and occurrences in HIS world. I can picture in my mind’s eye the all-powerful King of Kings guarding and guiding His beloved children, even in the minutest details of their lives. The concept that G-d controls and guides not only the world He created, but also His creations, permeates Biblical literature. Medieval Jewish scholars considered that there are two types of divine providence: “general providence,” which relates to G-d’s care of the world and His species, and “special providence,” which relates to G-d’s care of each individual. How grateful I am for this powerful understanding especially when it involves miraculous gifts bestowed upon me by the grace of G-d.
It is this exquisite understanding of G-d’s Divine Providence which leads me to share with you why I have not been writing for the last six months. I had unexpected surgery in October, right after the holidays. It has taken time to get back on my feet and return to myself because a surgery imposes stress on the body and mind. I found myself overwhelmed by emotions and I didn’t realize that this is a normal response to surgery. There was an abundance of negative emotions that I couldn’t quell. I finally allowed them to be and as I looked at them I realized there was a negative script in my mind that had long awaited a rewrite. I spent time working on healing many aspects of my past, envisioning a healthier future.
Once I calmed my emotions, I was able to lovingly think about and savor all the aspects of Divine Providence that were revealed to me through the entire process of seeing doctors, to the surgery itself and the follow up care. The impact was so enormous, that truthfully, the full comprehension of G-d’s kindness in my life shook me to my core of my being.
It was a hot day last June when I got the CT report from the lung doctor. He said that I had some small nodules on my right lung that needed to be assessed by a pulmonary specialist. I was definitely not expecting that kind of report, nor was my husband. We drove home in a rather edgy mood as we were both worried and scared.
I had a cough for a year, so the doctor ordered the lung CT. He stated that there were many probabilities of what the nodules could indicate. He assured me that further tests could pinpoint a diagnosis. He instructed me to make an appointment with a pulmonologist at the Rambam hospital in Haifa to determine the next step.
Rambam Health Care Campus is the largest medical center in northern Israel and the fifth largest hospital in Israel. It is also a teaching and research facility. It is located in Haifa, the 3rd largest city in Israel and looks out on the Mediterranean Sea near the Haifa Port. In fact, the main parking lot is literally right next to the sea and there is a public beach nearby. What a riot! One can have a day at the beach after finishing up at the hospital. What could be better? The hospital is named after the 12th century Jewish physician-philosopher Rabbi Moshe Ben-Maimon (Maimonides), known as the Rambam. The hospital was established in 1938 during the British mandate and was described as the finest hospital in the Middle East. It has a reputation for excellence which put my mind at ease.
I got the paperwork I needed and we drove to Haifa (which is an hour and a half by car) for the appointment. We arrived at the hospital and thankfully didn’t have to wait long. The Doctor was extremely professional and helpful. She consulted with her team of doctors along with a radiologist and they decided I needed to have a PET scan. PET stands for POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY. It is a nuclear medicine functional imaging technique. It is a very costly procedure and I was surprised that they chose it for the small nodules. Ultimately, I would see the hand of G-d through the results of this test.
I must tell you about one of the most incredible aspects of the health care system in Israel. I have never, ever been rushed by a doctor in any appointment over the ten years I have lived here. The doctors have given me as much time as I needed to speak with me and enter their findings on the computer. After 10 years of seeing doctors for various things, I am telling you in all honesty, that I have received amazing, compassionate and expert care. It is truly one of the greatest benefits of making Aliyah. Of course, I cannot speak for the personal experience of others.
I had the PET scan and a follow up appointment was made. We returned to Rambam once again to get the results. The doctor stated that there was activity around the nodules. She gave me the option of waiting and watching or speaking to a thoracic surgeon about removing the nodule and doing a biopsy. Her personal suggestion was surgery to truly ascertain what was going on. After a short deliberation, we decided to speak with the thoracic surgeon to get his input. I had never been in a hospital for a surgery with an overnight stay. It definitely felt like a scary proposition and I wasn’t too keen on the idea but I knew speaking to an expert would give me the information I needed to make an educated decision.
The normal follow up procedure would be to get the phone number of the department and call to make an appointment. It would typically require additional paperwork and another trip to Haifa. I asked the doctor if she would call the department for us and she willingly complied. Gracia, the secretary of the department answered and said to come right up. We were pleasantly surprised at our great good fortune (G-d’s intervention). We found the department but couldn’t find the secretary, so I popped my head into an office where an older man was sitting. I asked if he knew where I could find Gracia. He said with a chuckle that she was busy but he was available. He said he was her boss and he could help me and I should have a seat. He was THE HEAD OF THE THORACIC SURGERY DEPARTMENT. CAN YOU IMAGINE? I didn’t have an appointment or any paperwork other than from the Pulmonologist. G-d performed a real Miracle for me, as a situation like this is extremely rare.
We chatted with the doctor for 30 minutes and played Jewish geography and then got down to business. He shared his expertise as to why he felt that surgery was the best option and after deliberation, we agreed and set the date for two weeks later. I always tell G-d I want the best of everything…as a kind of joke and He must have been listening because He worked another miracle; the doctor’s name was DR. BEST. Friends, would a situation like this happen anywhere other than Israel? In some countries one has to wait months or even years for a surgical spot. It’s not like my situation was a dire emergency. I was astounded!
Dr. Best scheduled my surgery time for late morning, so we wouldn’t have to wake up early and drive in early morning traffic. Have you ever heard of such kindness and consideration? He made plans to perform “VAT” surgery. VAT stands for video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. A small video camera and surgical instruments are inserted into an incision in the patient’s chest. The surgeon is guided by the images that are projected onto a computer monitor next to the patient. The growth and affected tissue are removed and biopsied. It is a fairly new technique and minimally invasive, however it does require closing off the right side of the lung. It would be a 2 hour surgery with a 2 to 3 day stay in the hospital.
On the day of the surgery we arrived in plenty of time and I checked in with ease, awaiting the procedure to begin. I was naturally nervous. My husband was nervous too but tried to be calm and reassuring. The surgery went well, thank G-d and before long, I was in the recovery room with my husband at my side. The doctor said the nodule looked benign but the follow up appointment would reveal the final results of the biopsy. The nurses and doctors were great and they were available when I needed them. I was impressed by the kindness and care of each doctor and nurse along the way and it was no trouble finding English speakers.
I was released after two days and returned home to find meals prepared and delivered by my friends. I felt so joyful at having the whole episode behind me. The only job I had was to take it easy and recover. The words of The Wednesday Psalm recited by the Levites in the holy Temple came to my mind; ” Had HaShem not been a help to me, my soul would have dwelt in silence. When my forebodings were abundant within me, Your comforts cheered my soul.” I could now relax. A follow up appointment was scheduled for two weeks later.
We returned to Haifa and Rambam hospital. When our name was called, we greeted the doctor and joked a bit. He then pulled out the report and said, the nodule was a cancerous tumor disguised as a benign tumor. “He said the C word,” I thought to myself. “What happens next,” I wondered as a string of scary thoughts raced through my mind. He then said, “You have nothing to worry about because it was small and we caught it right away. We got it all and the margins are excellent, so you don’t need any further treatment.” “What does that mean exactly,” I asked. He said, “you don’t need chemo or radiation but we will need to see you every six months for 2 years. You are absolutely fine and healthy.” Those words were music to my ears.
I walked away with the report in my hand not yet fully comprehending what had just transpired. On the one hand the doctor had said the “C word” but on the other hand, they caught it early and got it out and IT WAS GONE. I THINK I WAS IN SHOCK BECAUSE OF THE FULL SCOPE OF G-D’S MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION. The truth of the entire series of events began to come to the forefront of my thoughts and I began to reflect on G-d’s loving kindness.
One of the symptoms of the tumor was a persistent cough that shook my whole body. I thought of how G-d gave me the annoying, continuous cough so that I would go to a doctor. Then I thought of G-d’s timing of all the appointments and tests results ultimately leading me to walk into that doctor’s office at exactly the moment when he would be available. Normally, a Professor and the Head doctor of a Department would not be found in his office nor would he be available to chit chat for 30 minutes. It happened that this occurred around Rosh Hashanah, when the doctors do not have full schedules. Then I thought about how HE, the Master of The Universe got me the best doctor….Dr. Best and then I thought of the results of my biopsy……that even though it was the scary “C word,” I was ok. I was alive and healthy once again because G-d saw to it that I had surgery and took care of the problem. I was a walking Miracle….a poster child so to speak for G-d’s Divine Providence; His perfect timing in the Land of miracles.
I walked jauntily to the car, as I was smiling from the inside out. In spite of the fact that the results were rumbling around in the recesses of my mind, the overriding predominant thoughts were of G-d’s miraculous intervention in my life. I felt as if HE had personally taken me by the hand and led me through the entire process to remedy the cough and excise the growth. The words of the Psalms of King David came to mind: “I will rejoice in your salvation and proclaim all your praises in Zion so that Hashem should become known for His loving care. Let not frail man feel invincible.” G-d’s kindness and salvation had been bestowed upon me as a free gift from His treasure store of Divine goodness and compassion.
Moshe Kempinski in a June 2005 article titled, “Jerusalem and Miracles” states that “our relationship with our Creator yearns for the occurrence of Divine intervention in our private and national lives. We must learn to walk a walk of faith that is not dependent on miracles yet is always in anticipation of miracles.” I was certainly yearning for Divine intervention throughout the entire uncertain process and I knew I had to walk in faith through the full six month period. I truly felt the hand of G-d guiding me every step of the way and I was hopeful of a positive outcome all the while anticipating a miracle.
SO now, as this second month of Adar is showing its face, Divine Providence would have it, that I share my many miracles with you during this miraculous month. I am filled with the deepest gratitude and a joyous spirit as this month unfolds. The Rabbis teach that the illumination of the month of Adar is to know that precisely at the time when we cannot see or feel G-d is the time when He is with us the most. Further, they tell us that the SECRET of the month of Adar is that normal is really deeply miraculous. And so it was, that the normal process of discovering and treating a small nodule, turned into what was for me a series of Epic Miracles with G-d’s intervention highlighting HIS DIVINE PROVIDENCE AT ITS FINEST!
With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha