Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I Chose To Live, So Should You

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It is now over 5 years since Hashem gifted me with ALS. But this week we celebrated a milestone, it is 3 years since I had a tracheostomy.

It was the day after Rosh Hashanah, I had been using a machine called a bipap to help me breathe, still I seemed to be fading. My wife Dina took me to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and my oxygen level was dangerously low.

It was at that point, that I was given the choice to have the tracheostomy and live, or not and put an end to the suffering and difficulties. Legally and halachically it was my choice, with Dina's support, I chose to live.

The simple fact is, that if I would not have had it then, I wouldn't be here today and possibly wouldn't have lived through the week.

Another fact is, that the true sacrifice in this story, is my wife's, she is the one who has the brunt of the hardships, taking care of me and the family with love and tears. She has to be mother, father, wife, caretaker, sometimes nurse and a multitude of other titles. I can't begin to imagine how much she suffers, not having a normal husband, to do what husbands do for their wives.

All I am able to do is listen and write to her, but she has given me a life and the ability to watch my children grow up. With her support and womanly cleverness, she pushes me to be a better father, to study Torah more and more, and to write. I owe it all to her.

Being able to see my children grow is one of the greatest pleasures. It is incredible that with all the hardships, they found a way to function as normal and healthy kids should. And I get to see them, talk to them, and experience their personalities and talents.

Over the past five years, we were blessed to see amazing kindness from all over the world. And especially the Los Angeles community. But no one more than the five exceptional people who have taken on the responsibility of taking care of me and my family. We call them the fantastic five, they started the Hurwitz Family Fund, and in over five years, they haven't wavered. They are truly amazing.

After having the tracheostomy, I lost the use of my right hand, and with that went my ability to communicate. Before that I would type on an iPhone for communication and writing blog posts. For those 9 days in the hospital, I couldn't communicate and I just let go and put my trust in Hashem, and my wife made sure I was taken care of.

I was in recovery in the ICU, when I began to understand the importance of bikur cholim, visiting the sick. Even though I wasn't able to communicate, I felt uplifted with every visit, whether it was a rabbi or lay person, man or woman.

My children being too young to enter the ICU, to my pleasure, snuck in, I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed seeing them.

As Yom Kippur was approaching, we wondered what kind of holiday we would have in the hospital. The thought sounded grim, but we were in for a surprise.

Just before Yom Kippur, a woman was ushered into the room right next to mine. Her children were with her and when it came time for davening, they came to my room and with the most melodic voices they sang the davening, it was truly uplifting.

Over Yom Kippur, we had several visitors that walked to the hospital to see us. All and all, that Yom Kippur was one of our most memorable ones.

I am blessed to live at a time when there are technologies that keep me alive such as the ventilator that breathes for me, and the incredible computer that reads my eye movements, so I can communicate.

While life is full of difficulties, pain and suffering, there is so much to be grateful for. While I understand the hardships, I choose to focus on the positive parts of my life and that keeps me going. There is my wife, my children, family, friends and you. I have the opportunity to learn and teach Torah. There is the hope that in the future a cure will be found or perhaps a miracle even sooner.

Each of us has so much good in our lives, even within the suffering and difficulties there is so much good to be found. Focus on the positive in your life now, see all the love that is around you, there is so much you can do, and so much more you can give.

May you have a good and sweet year, and may Moshiach come and put an end to all the suffering. The time has come.

45 comments:

  1. No words, Yitzi. Just tears and gratitude that you are alive and lifting all of us up. Please G-d may it be a good and sweet year for you, Dina, and Klal Yisroel. <3

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  2. You are a true inspiration and a living example of positivity. May Hashem bless you and your family with open and revealed good and a refuah shleimah. May we merit the coming of moshiach now!

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  3. Shana Tovah to you and your family. Thank you for the inspiring post.

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  4. You and your family should be blessed.Thank you for sharing and inspiring

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  5. Rochel Leah Kosofsky Longmeadow, MASeptember 27, 2017 at 6:42 PM

    I want to thank you for all the dvar torahs you write on Chabad.org. I teach a Shabbos parsha class every other week in my community. Your divrei torah inspire many women in my community. I always make a point in downloading them and reading them so I can share your thoughts. May your entire family be blessed with only good things. Gemar Chasima Tova.

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  6. Thank you Rabbi Yitzi, you are an incredible inspiration to me! Blessings and wishes for a sweet happy year for you and your dear family!

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  7. You are truly an incredible inspiration. Wishing you and your family a sweet and happy new year filled with blessings!

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  8. Right when I finished my IDF service, my rabbi sent me a text and said, "You're going to the National Sinai Scholar's Retreat" in 2016. I wasn't exactly sure what I was in for, but from everything I experienced in the past year and half, I needed to take my mind off of everything, so I decided to trust him and just go.

    One of the lectures I went to was given by your wife. I thought I had seen and heard it all, but to my shock I was blown away. Sitting there, holding back my tears as hard as I could, I realized how amazing you are, and how much of an inspiration you have been to so many students around the world. I want to say that a song that always uplifted my mood, and always got me out of whatever rough patches that I was going through, was your song, "Shine A Little Light"

    Thank you so much for everything you have given to us. I promised that one day I will visit, and I hope that day comes sooner than I keep pushing away. Thank you so much, Shanah Tovah.

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  9. Dear rabbi Hurwitz, Thank you so much for your letter! May Hashem send you a refuaa shleima בדרך נס, A gmar chassima tova, and may He send the moshiach במהרה.
    . אוהבים ומתפללים לרפואתך
    אהרון

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  10. Wow. Your wisdom, and clarity, is a real blessing for everyone. You give strength to us all.
    GC"T, and may Hashem finally bring the Geulah.

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  11. I am very touched by your love, admiration and appreciation for your wife Dina.
    I wish and hope that your articles will take their time to enter in lives of others and to make more difference in marriages. Because it is really very beautifull this sort of balance in realtions ! Thankyou

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  12. I am very touched by your love, admiration and appreciation for your wife Dina.
    I wish and hope that your articles will take their time to enter in lives of others and to make more difference in marriages. Because it is really very beautifull this sort of balance in relations ! Thankyou

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  13. Yitzi Hurwitz You are one of the strongest persons I have ever met, while I beleive none of us know how much strength we will have when faced with great adversity I suspect if I was in your position I would have given in long ago, I have only met you in person twice, both times I have left both inspired and humiliated that I should stress over my minor problems in life. I wish you all the very best for the new year, you are truly a blessed man with your faith, your incredible personality and most of all surrounded by a beautiful family and amazing friends.(b'ezrat hashem chatimah tovah) Patrick & family.

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  14. Rabbi Yitzi, you are an inspiration.
    I am so glad that I found your blog several months ago (thanks to a link from the song you recorded).

    You are living proof that through Tfilla, Tshuva, and Tzdaka we can remove "The evil from the decree" (רועה הגזרה) - not remove the decree itself, but to remove the evil from the decree; to always see the goodness that HaShem grants us, even in the face of suffering.

    May HaShem grant you and all Klal Yisrael a Gmar Chatima Tova and a year of happiness, health, and Yirat Shamayim

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  15. Thank you for the inspiration! This was so powerful and uplifting. It really makes a difference to my outlook! May you and your beautiful family be blessed with open and revealed brochos!

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  16. Thankyou for letting your wife come and speak for us here in Australia. She is truly an inspirational woman. May you both be blessed with revealed brochas, and continue to uplift and inspire us all.

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  17. One of the most inspiring articles I ever read! Your an amazing person and you have so much wisdom to give over! Also, I loved your marriage articles. I found every word to be so accurate! Thank you!

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  18. Dear Rabbi Yitzi,
    I attended the recent N'shei Convention in Melbourne, Australia where your wife, Dina, spoke several times. She shared so much warmth and wisdom with us. It was a privilege to have her as our companion for that weekend. You would have been proud of her.
    May Hashem bless you with a wonderful new year full of revealed blessings b'gashmius and b'ruchnius, nachas and a refuah shleyma. Thank you for your good wishes to all of us. May Hashem heed your prayers immediately.
    Naomi Rafael

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  19. Rav Yitzie, A year and a half ago, right before Pesach,I was suddenly in pain and completely bedridden. Somehow, Hashem directed me to your story and song "Shine a little light." That became my small children's most requested song and my lesson in Emunah as we tried to work out how we were going to have a kosher Pesach and a functional Ima. Your strength gave us strength during that scary time. With deep felt thanks I wish you a רפואה שלמה and גמר חתימה טובה. Devorah Goldberg, Yad Binyamin, Israel

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  20. You really are such an inspiration. I have such admiration for you and your special family. Hashem should bless you with an immediate refuah shleima and many happy healthy years to enjoy your family.

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  21. Wow! So inspired by this message and general positive attitude. Hashem should bless you immediately with a miraculous refuah shelaima and bless you and your amazing wife and children with only revealed good! Moshiach now!

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  23. R' Yitzy,
    You continue to inspire us all! My Brother and I will never forget that special Yom Kippur.

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  24. Wow! Reb Yitzi! Truly inspiring. The most truthful words one can hear to great this Holy Day, are yours. Like a heavenly voice your soul communicates with the world without the limitations of a body.
    Moshiach NOW!

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  25. A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know than every single day someone in Brazil is praying for you!!! Moshiach A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know that every A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know than every single day someone in Brazil is praying for you! Moshiach now!

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  26. A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know than every single day someone in Brazil is praying for you!!! Moshiach A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know that every A few years ago I got to know your story, Rabbi Itschok. I got very touched and decided to daven for your refua shlema every single day and specially at licht benchen. We are one big family, so I want you to know than every single day someone in Brazil is praying for you! Moshiach now!

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  27. We appreciate your strong emunah! You inspire all of us

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  28. Your words reach the depths. Gmar Chasima Tova!

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  29. Wow. I am completely speechless. This blew me away. I pray that me and all of klal Yisroel can reach such a level of emunah and connection to HASHEM . mashiach can not be far away with people like you in this world.You should be able to continue growing and inspiring others until the coming of mashiach.

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  30. Your congregation in Temecula was blessed with your inspirational leading of the high holidays services. Now it is experienced world wide. May 5778 bring you the blessing of a full recovery so we can build a sukkah together again, like we did for so many years😊

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  31. Thank you for continuing to inspire us all.
    A year FILLED with miracles for you and your family and all Klal Yisroel.

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  32. Wow!
    Have a gmar chasima tova with lots of continued miracles for you and your family!

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  33. Beyond beyond inspired by you and your wife. I have no words. IyH you should see a lot of nachas from your children. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  34. This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing, you're an amazing person. We are Davening.

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  35. Your words of inspiration leave others wordless!!

    Thank you so much for putting life into perspective. You and your beautiful family, teach us the true meaning of gratitude, appreciation, focus, love and humility.

    G-d bless you all and yes, may Hashem bring you a refuah shelemah and may Moshiach be revealed IMMEDIATELY so not merely your words can dance before us but so too, your body.

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  36. Wow, that was so inspiring and uplifting! May you and your entire family be blessed with tremendous strength, siyata d'shmaya, yeshua and hatlzacha this year!

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  37. It is beyong my comprehension to start to understand how the Rabbi has such a positive approach to his life under such harrowing circumstances.
    Day after day he is suffering.
    Further it can only be stated that his dear wife is not only a Tzadekes with super human capacity but angelic in a very earth bound sense.
    What lesson must I learn from their approach to challenge?.
    I can only pray that even when I feel that life is not treating me in the manner I hope for, I shall instantaneously shake myself and say Pinchos who are you to complain,wake up and count all the Blessings G-d is giving you and be beSimchah.
    May HaShem bring a miraclous refuah to Rabbi Horowitz and unlimited blessing to his Rebbetzin and family.
    Moshiach Now!.

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  38. Powerful, very powerful!
    May we have a year of miracles!
    Hoping always for the best,
    DH

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  39. Rav Yitzi, I read your words and smile, as they are all so familiar. So is your incredible will to live and the amazing heights everyone in your family has achieved as a result, and due to, your illness. The tough parts, and the unspeakably horrific, 'trapped' reality that is ALS are familiar too. You see, I grew up in an 'ALS family' as well. My grandfather was a Cantor and Jewish educator who ran his shul and his beloved community, where he was adored. He went out and did 'kiruv'in middle America before 'kiruv' was even a word, and he was diagnosed with ALS a few months before I was born. Which means that, according to the doctors, I never should have known him. But let me tell you what did happen: first off, my grandfather ended up living 14 years with ALS, off of nothing more than sheer will. The doctors had no explanation. Technically, it robbed him of everything. I never remember having a physical conversation with him as he lost his voice well before my third birthday. He lost his ability to sing, daven, teach, and lead -- everything he was passionate about. But what happened, when all physicality was robbed, was he became a malach - an angel- here on earth. His eyes shone with the pure, regal light he had always possessed -- only now it was brighter. The twinkle he would get in those eyes when I walked in the room was all I needed to know and feel the incredible unconditional love he was 'communicating.' I learned from him how precious life is and how much joy and comfort a person can provide simply when you know they are fighting to live, so they can be around you. As a result of ALS, I wasn't like other kids. Yes, I had a fear that every time I said goodbye, it could be the last, but mostly, it made me much more compassionate, motivated, mature, and wanting to give back. My grandfather became the greatest single influence on my life and has shaped everything I do- personally and professionally- in that life -- even twenty years after his death. Reb Yitzi, if you ever doubt the impact the hardship has on your family - and I know also how VERY real this is- please remember that you have such massive amounts to teach and give over, even without the ability to move a finger. ALS is like no other illness in its brutality and the way it traps perfectly agile minds in dysfunctional bodies, but it is also unique in that no other illness seems to create such 'perfected' models of human angels here in this world. I cry with you, knowing all that was taken and lost as a result of ALS, but I also send love and 'rejoice' with you, knowing also that you, your wife, and your children, will all live the rest of ALL of your lives on a much deeper, higher, more meaningful sphere as a result as well and the collective influence of all those impacted, and thus impactful, personalities, will effect generations. With Brachot for Refua and Yeshua.

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  40. Kudos to you! I can't say I would've made the same decision.

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  41. Amazing amazing amazing!
    No words... Just tears...
    May we see miracles very soon!
    Moshiach now!
    Thank you for the never ending inspiration!!!

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  42. Dear Yitzi,
    I just met you several days ago (by your song "shine a little light") and I think of you and your sweet family very often from as.
    I am not currently speaking english very well (I am from France and live in Israel) so I hope that you will understand my message ;-)
    I had some hard days this year (and I still do) and reading some of your posts bring me so much courage, I am almost jealous of your level of Emuna.
    I will continue to read you and I hope that I will catch a little bit of the light that you shine to all the people that are lucky to know you.
    Refua shelema bekarov mamash !

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  43. Thank you so much for these words. They make a difference in my life and help me now through hard times.

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