Lori Zadikow May was walking before work that summer in 1992. She was a counselor at a summer camp focused on science and hiking. Rabbi Chaim Mintz was also walking. He was walking and talking with a bochur from the Yeshiva of Staten Island, just taking a walk in the country.
Lori had this habit of giving out music CD’s she liked to friends or even random strangers. She’d given one such CD to a Jewish friend and wanting to repay the kindness, he handed Lori one of his own music discs. When she got home, she found it was a disc of Jewish music. While Lori loves Jewish music, she wasn’t crazy about the music on this particular disk. Lori stuck the disc in her bag thinking she’d find someone to pass it on to: someone who would be more likely to appreciate that particular disc of Jewish music.
So there she was, Lori, walking before work, when she saw Rabbi Chaim Mintz and his bachur. She could see they were Jewish because of their manner of dress and so acting on impulse, she drew out the music disc from her bag, held it out to R. Mintz and said, “This isn’t for me. Maybe it’s for you?”
“Maybe. But maybe I have a disc of Jewish music that would better suit you. he said. “Why not give me your mailing address so I can send it to you?”
And of course, Rabbi Chaim would not rest until he got Lori’s contact info so he could not just send her a music disc, but also invite her to his home for Shabbos.
And so, the gradual relationship between Lori and Oorah began.
Today, Lori leads hiking groups, and advises hikers to look for the wonders in nature that Hashem has created. She’s also a nutritional counselor who urges people to look for the cures Hashem has already provided them before turning to doctors. Apparently, Lori is pretty good at what she does, for doctors and nurses are among her clients.
Recently, Lori sent the following note around and it gives the very real flavor of her connection to Hashem. We thought to share it here for the sake of inspiration. Feel free to pass it on to others, who might learn from Lori Zadikow May’s special brand of wisdom.
Healing is at least 97% from Hashem.
Doctors “practice” medicine. They try one thing and another. They intelligently repeat techniques and remedies which have worked for people with symptoms and conditions, highly similar to the ones of the patients, whom they are trying to help right now. The best doctors know, they have frustrating limits. Many try to set aside times, to increase their skills and knowledge. Some strive to keep a rare open mind, to seek out a wide range of responsible conventional as well as unconventional treatment options. They look at things which have worked in other lands. They look at “double-blind” studies involving more than a few people. Till double-blind studies have been carried out to their conclusions, at the end of a set period of time, neither the doctors nor the patients in the study will know, who was getting placebos ( placebos= harmless, totally ineffective, real-looking pills) and who was getting something truly to be tested out,… something with the potential to do great good or unexpected harm.
These test substances sometimes include safe, natural plants, given by Heaven to man, for medicine. More often, the substances tested, are new chemical combinations from a laboratory. These are discovered mostly by research chemists, employed often by pharmaceutical companies or universities. Sometimes they’re discovered by doctors and other thinking people, following up on a hunch whose inspiration came to them, in an unexpected way. It dawned on them, that something important was related to something else, in a way never earlier recognized. They cannot account for that Heaven-sent moment of insight, when they paused in their breathing, as goose-bumps came out on their arms. Out of mists of wondering, came spine-chilling clarity.
One of the courses of treatment, which is best, for an individual patient, hopefully is the one picked. These are not the treatments which would work most effectively for that patient’s father, or son, or sister, but for this one individual, with unique personal health history and patterns of life.
Nothing is accomplished, without the hugest part of the help coming from Hashem.
I also suspect, that atheists turn to Hashem, in their times of greatest concern for the recovery of loved ones, or to despairingly pray themselves out of immediate danger. Too soon, they fall back on the unnecessary loneliness of self-reliance. Embarassed by their temporary inconsistency, in reaching upward toward The Source of Goodness, The Healer for Whose Help they have anxiously appealed, they return to scoffing about religious beliefs. They forget evidence they have themselves experienced, that there is sometimes Help, far bigger and better than what people alone can do.
The surgeon operates, we pray, with great success. Hopefully he or she knows, that hands and mind have been blessed with gifts, which logic cannot fully explain. The day-by-day healing which follows operations and illnesses, is primarily from Hashem. Nurses change bandages and apply ointments to prevent infections, and to soothe pain. The healing underneath, comes from Hashem. Doctors put on casts to protect and to keep straight, bones which became broken and then were reset. The healing underneath, comes from Hashem. The doctors count on it, but cannot fully understand it.
Every decade, confident doctors speak with certainty, claiming it’s been proven, that today we have the fullest knowledge and the most advanced ways of doing medical things. A short decade later, the same doctors will look back and talk about how primitive, unnecessarily harsh, and incomplete, was medical understanding, ten years ago. Therefore, it’s always too early, to rule out sense-making, tested-on-people, but unconventional approaches to regaining health.
Hashem doesn’t need to “practice” medicine. He doesn’t need to have played scales on a piano, in order to help a composer create a musical masterpiece, which stirs the deepest emotions of mankind. Hashem’s knowledge is limitless. Hashem hears the prayers of the caring internist, worried about what has been discovered in the examination room. He hears the silent prayers of the surgeon in the operating room.
Often Hashem answers “yes”. Sadly, for the patient and for those who love him or her, sometimes the answer is “no.” The “no’s” can be agonizingly hard to accept.
Sometimes a patient is being prevented from experiencing something even worse.
Or it can be, that a person is triumphing over obstacles which feel so avalanche-large, that in their shadows, it’s difficult to keep balance on the uneven paths ahead. All along the down-and-up ways we have come, and the way we are going, we hope to develop increasingly better character traits. So it may be, with a patient who is struggling against an illness. Though we cannot see why they have to go through so much, they may be earning greatness of character, and its enduring reward that is worth it all, in the World to Come. We cannot see ahead, beyond a certain point.
Don’t we each know of someone, who has healed well, and has long outlived all the doctors’ predictions? Hashem’s help is stronger than all else. We know He is pleased by many things we can accomplish. These include: our gratitude; our awe of Heaven; our good deeds; our sincere prayers; kindness; our charitable contributions which protect the dignity of those whose needs are greater than our own; our active commitment to justice; our love for our families and friends; for increasing His Honor, the use of the talents he has given us; our striving to bring peace within and between our communities . Many of our greatest say, “and Torah-learning is equal to them all”.
When a masterpiece of art or of healing becomes beautifully complete, there is Ruach beyond our understanding. Ruach blows into the sails that make sailboats go. Even now, as I am writing, Hashem is helping me find the words, to say to you, what you already know.