Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Struggles in Struggles

The past few weeks has been trying for me. 

You know that I suffer from ALS, I am not able to move most of my body, and I can't talk. What I can do is smile and move my eyes. With my eyes, I am able to control a computer that reads my eye movements. With my eyes, I communicate with my family and I write Torah articles, I am also able to text and email. 

My joys in life are my wife and children, lifting the spirits of others and teaching Torah through my articles. 

Over the past few weeks, I couldn't get my eyes to focus on the letters I wanted to write. I don't know if it was psychological or physical, but my eyes weren't cooperating. Writing one word took as long as five minutes. I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating it was. 

I tried everything from relaxing to praying. Not being able to write to my wife and children, I felt useless as a husband and father. Not being able to write Torah articles, I felt useless and irrelevant. I felt like I was in jail. My thoughts were, "what possible purpose could I have, if I can't communicate?" 

That is where having a good wife comes in. My wife Dina said to me, "It is obvious that Hashem wants something else of you and that writing is not the only way, or perhaps less writing, but more meaningful writing, from the heart, is what Hashem wants from you. On Shabbos, when you don't use the eye gaze computer, you are still there and relevant. Maybe you should think of it like Shabbos, even if you can only see and look at people, that is meaningful to us." 

"If you are alive, it means that you are relevant to Hashem, and that you make a difference." 

She also organized a farbrengen in my honor, where people took on good resolutions in Torah and mitzvahs, in kindness and in living life in the ways of Hashem. And people around the world have also made resolutions, said prayers and sent me well wishes. 

You don't know how powerful your Torah, mitzvahs, kindness, prayers and resolutions are, and I am grateful for every one of them. I am also grateful to all of you who prayed for me at holy sites. 

So far, I have not gone wrong listening to Dina's advice, she lifted me up, helped me reframe my situation and brought meaning back to my life. 

Thank you for all the love you've all sent my way. 


  1. I am moved by your story. I just published a book called Repairing The World. One essay in the book is called A Challenging Life. I talk about how much we can actually accomplish in states where it seems we cannot such as laying in bed all day or stuck in a wheelchair. I have a medical condition where much of the day I am laying in bed and I accomplish quite a lot. Perhaps even more than someone who isn't stuck in bed. If you give me an address I would be happy to send you a free copy.

  2. Thank you for your continued inspiration!

  3. Oh Yitzi we are thinking of you and davening and doing more mitzvot.

    You are a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing and uplifting us!

    בשורות טובות

  4. Rabbi Yitzi, just knowing you is such a chizuk and privilege in my life. Sending love and strength, Gila and family

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  6. You are amazing, have always been amazing and will continue to be an amazing inspiration.

  7. Thank you so much for being an inspiration and always teaching us something. I wish you and your family much hatzlacha. May you have good news .

  8. Wow! The holiness of each of you, two halves of one soul, the spiritual work, watching you both serve G-d with where He's put you; is so humbling, inspiring, and gives me such a chizuk to keep going as well,
    We all have our inner jails on some level, some bigger than others, and some more obvious to the public,
    But through gratitude and G-d consciousness, and being real with yourself, you can break free of the jail of the mind,
    No surprise that this was written the day after the Yom Hillula of the Alter Rebbe!!!!
    Rabbi Hurwitz, may your eyes and machine work and may you have big mashiach moments in your life on a moment to moment basis!

  9. Huge fan of the Hurwitz famJanuary 2, 2019 at 10:41 PM

    I am tremendously touched by your heart felt writings. May you continue to have the strength and keep inspiring the masses! May you have a complete, speedy healing now!!

  10. Your impact on others is way beyond the words that you write. Thank you. You are a true inspiration

  11. your strength burns a new trails through dark forested paths that we can all find ourselves under different circumstances. you and your family are Olympians of spirit and faith and give us all a better chance to rise up from difficulty

  12. Rabbi Yitzi Hashem loves you and however creative you need to be “ you are able to reach out and change other peoples lives for the good” you are an inspiration . We never know our specific job in life but it’s clear Hashem is in charge and you are fulfilling the mitzvahs on a daily basis. I thank you for much clarity as well.

  13. I have to say WOW! You and Dina are the REAL deal and unbelievable inspirations. May you know of no more struggles in a revealed way immediately!

  14. Yitzi, I've only just joined you a couple of weeks ago but already, you've made a huge impact on my life. Your perseverance in such trials and the grace and humility you face them speaks more words than you could ever write. May Hashem bless you beyond words to express and surround you with evidence of His love for you and Dina and your family. You are in my prayers.

  15. You are an inspiration for the whole world! Stay strong and keep spreading the light that Hashem put you here for!

  16. Rabbi Yitzi,

    Today is my birthday, Chof Vov Teves.

    I want to bless you with knowing and understanding the tens of thousands of lives (if not more)you have touched, whether it is with your Dvar Torahs, your Song and/or your genuine smile.

    Making one life better is already huge and that step closer for Moshiach to come and You have made many lives better.

    I want Hashem to bless you with strength, and a complete Refuah Shleima. My Hashem reveal the cure for ALS today!!

    May Hashem also bless your wife and family with strength and happiness and may we merit to see Moshiach now!

    My hachlata is to learn the 5 minute shiur of Halacha/ Shulchan Aruch from Rabbi Zajac's on

  17. Rabbi and Dina, what the two of you contribute to this universe with all your challenges gives strength and encouragement to so many others - As attributed to Abraham Lincoln - "it is not the years of life but the life in the years" and the two of you give such meaning to lives who radiate goodness and meaning and may Hashem send you brachot and may the Moshiah come NOW mamash. Thank YOU both for being such extraordinary souls

  18. You are a true hero! May Hakadosh Boruch Hu give you continued strength!

  19. Please know that what you wrote here made an immense impact on me and really helps me in my own outlook on life. Thank you. This inspires me to do more mitzvot. I am praying for you.

  20. Tomorrow is Friday - we all daven for you at licht benching. There has to be a point where Hashem says "ok, all those tfillos for this special person Yitzi is enough!" And because of all the love and tfillos generated in your merit we will see Moshiach!!!!

  21. Hi Rabbi Yitzi,
    I hope your eye gaze is back to where you are comfortable.
    A few years ago I was at Irvine Chabad after davening the morning prayer.
    A fellow said he was going to the inland empire and said he would find a way.
    He was going to hold the High Holiday Services because something had happened and the Rabbi of the congregation could not be there.
    I offered him a ride and drove him there.
    Only about a year later did I learn that it was your congregation!
    I’m so glad that I did help out a little!
    Mordechai Dovid
    I was the shamash of the Tzemach Tzedek shule in the Old City Jerusalem 1990-1998.

  22. Dear Rabbi and Dinah
    What you accomplish is beyond reality and your inspiring comments are a gift to all of us. I will never forget the time that I came to your house in Temecula for Purim and we were a total of three in the "congregation" and you read the Megillah just for your two congregants. I am now living in South Carolina and attend Chabad in Myrtle Beach
    but I have never forgotten your contributions to Jewish life in the Temecula area.


  23. Continued kochos bs'd. You are a true inspiration and are engaged in the same thing as Borei olam which is lifting the downtrodden.All the blessings of the Torah H'kdosha!

  24. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I will undertake something as a zechus for you and your wonderful, inspiring, beautiful family.
    Reading your posts, and listening to your song, "shine a little light" inspires me so much, and makes me want to be a better person.

  25. You have so much meaning in the world. Just the mere thought of you inspires me to no end. You don’t even know. I daven for you and your family every day in every single shmoneh esray I say. You are so special.

  26. Dina would have had the personality, the strength to push Esav into complete teshuvah, thus revealing his huge potential.
    I had been wondering what would happen, if she married someone who is already a tzaddik.

    Now I know.

    When davening for your recovery, I wonder how that would be like. Since you can achieve so much with so little means, what couldn't you do, when HaShem decides to heal you?