(I borrowed this post from the blog of Reb Bahir Davis. His themes parallel mine, but I deeply admire his mode of expression. He also deserves any support we can provide.)

The Bitul Bottle
Reb Bahir Davis [1]

Shabbos can be so sweet.

Every week for about 14 years I have studied with my Rebbe and friend [Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi].  For the past few years, I have picked him up at 0800 hrs. We chat and laugh and I have the honor and pleasure of going with him to the home of a friend and we study for a couple of hours and then go and daven. It is a routine and ritual that is comfy and joyful.

As part of the ritual, my belovedest (my wife, partner and friend) puts a bottle of lavender water in the cup holder for ‘da Rebbe.’ He laughs and blesses her in absentia, reminding me again of how special she is.

Of late I have received a powerful reminder (though none was needed) of how incredibly special she is to me.

She has been diagnosed with throat cancer. We are supporting her as she goes through this procedure that will אי׳ה cure her. She and we who love her so much are sometimes filled with worry and fear and anger, all the emotions that I have seen and through which I have counseled others.

We reach out to the Wholly One of Being. And we discover G in some wild and wonderful places. One of those places is an empty bottle.

The Shabbos after we learned the frightening news that my belovedest has cancer of the throat, I showed up at my Rebbe’s home to go and study and daven.

As always and despite the devastating revelation of the week, my belovedest, as she does on every Shabbos, sent along a bottle of Lavender water. The Rebbe’s reaction this time was different.

When I handed him the bottle as is our ritual, he took it in his hands, bowed his head and whispered prayers. I could not hear most of what he said, though I think that I heard the words רפואה שלימה (Refuah Shlemah – a harmonious and complete healing) in his prayers.  Was it my imagination that his eyes were moist?

He turned to me and gave me my ‘marching orders’. I was told to take the bottle back to Hedvah and she was to drink it.

When I returned home, I handed it to my confused wife. When I explained what our Rebbe had said and done, she was moved by his gesture. She went into the Sukkah, sat quietly for a while and drank the water that had been blessed by Reb Zalman.

I wish that I could say that she was miraculously healed, but that is not the way of things. I have faith that, after the many weeks of excruciatingly painful radiation treatments, she will be healed and whole.

After drinking the water under the leafy canopy of the Sukkah she put the bottle in the Sukkah where it remained for the rest of Sukkot.

Sukkot has ended. The ‘walls’ and frame are put away. The etrog and lulav are placed pleasingly to the eye around our home. And the bottle remains, a personal reminder in our home of faith and hope and love.

Now this amazing woman is facing this terrible test. This אשת חיל — this warrior woman, woman of valor — is frightened. She is not afraid of the worst. Her real fear is to be a burden. She, who is always concerned with the needs of others, is still concerned with the needs of others. She doesn’t want to ask for help. She doesn’t want to put us in a difficult position.

Her faith in HaShem is so deep that this test is not a challenge to that faith. Instead there is a (and I feel strange saying this) beauty that radiates from deep inside.

She is transparent.

In Kabbalah there is an amazing concept: ביטול היש.  It is usually translated as the nullification of the self before G. Our Rebbe interprets it as making our souls transparent before G.

During this terrible trial we who love her and are here to support my belovedest are becoming more aware of this transparency.

I believe that every experience in life is a test and a lesson. We take the tests and in time the lessons present themselves. In this case, with this woman, a few of the lessons are becoming visible through her, through her transparency, to me. And every day I give thanks for her presence in my life and the blessings that she embodies.

As we move forward, I will be writing about the challenge that my belovedest I are facing and the lessons that we are learning from tests taken. You can find updates on this blog, the page Hedvah: Our Joy. [1]

One of these lessons is the humility to ask. I have trouble asking. Even now as I write this, I am having trouble formulating the words. Since Hedvah is going through this long and painful procedure, we are in need. We need your prayers and good thoughts. And we need Tzedaka. The expenses of returning to health are staggering. And there are the day to day expenses of life for a family that is experiencing anything but day to day life. Anything that you, who are reading, this could contribute would mean so much to us.

Tax deductible contributions can be made to:

Rocky Mountain Hai [see: RockyMountainHai.com]
Mark the lower left corner “Davis family”

Send to: Rocky Mountain Hai
2047 Clipper Dr.
Lafayette, CO 80026


Mark in the lower left corner “Davis family”

Send to: Eve llsen
1720 Lehigh St.
Boulder, CO 80305


[1] see: http://rockymountainhai.com/?goback=.gde_1866270_member_5802097578321399812#!