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Ice Cream and the Light of Healing

February 19, 2019 | by Mandy Gaziel

Instead of indulging my body, God had plans to nourish my soul.

It had been a long, hard day, the culmination of a long, hard week. Driving my little Naomi to her play therapy appointment in Kibbutz Tzora, images of my husband Danni recuperating from major surgery and suffering from terrible pain, dominated my thoughts. Danni’s battle with lung cancer was taking a big toll on all my family, and as the mother and wife, I was the one bearing the brunt. Doing fine was my middle name these days, but watching my loved ones suffering could weigh me down. This was one of those days where a tremendous heaviness of spirit was crushing me.

Trying to focus on positive thoughts wasn’t helping when the only image that kept appearing was a huge, luscious ice cream cone. How interesting that such a mundane thing as ice cream could be so attractive at this moment. Danni hadn't worked for some time; money was tight and I really couldn't afford to splurge on the type of fancy ice cream that was insistently hammering in on my thoughts.

But the image wouldn’t leave, so I made an executive decision: Today I would get myself an ice cream as a desperately needed pick-me-up. Struggling to stay positive and upbeat for so long, despite all the hurdles bringing me down, I deserved a reward in my humble opinion.

It was still early, and Naomi and I would have time to get the ice cream cones and eat them quickly before our appointment started. All gloominess dissipated as I anticipated the thrill of indulging the most expensive, enticing concoction of flavors.

What kind of person am I that would make someone walk in the oppressive heat just for an ice cream?

At the bus stop where the main road turned towards the Kibbutz, a young woman was standing in the sun, her dark hair whipping in the wind. It was very hot; we were in the midst of a sharav (a heat wave), suffering from the burning hot, dry winds blowing scorching air from the desert.

I stopped and offered the girl a ride telling her that I could only take her to the entrance of the Kibbutz. Any detours would not leave us enough time to buy the ice cream. She told me that she needed to go to the Kibbutz wedding hall, but the main entrance of the Kibbutz was fine; she’d walk the rest of the way.

We sat in silence. I was still fantasizing about the ice cream and ignoring the guilt I felt about making the girl walk to the wedding hall in a heatwave.

As we drove, two voices began to argue vociferously in my head. What kind of person am I that would make someone walk in the oppressive heat just for an ice cream? On the other hand I desperately needed a pick-me-up. If I drove her I would lose those extra minutes and not have time to go to the store. After the appointment I had to rush home.

The voices bickered and quarreled as we neared our destination. At the entrance to the Kibbutz I took a deep breath and turned left towards the wedding hall. There was no joy in my decision, only a morose gloom. Yes I was doing the right thing, but it was hard to lose my treat. Stopping outside the hall I faked a smile as I turned to watch the girl get out the car.

She turned to me and said, "Thank you for taking me out of your way. I am a kallah (a bride), I'm getting married soon and I want to give you a bracha (blessing)."

Her words blew me away. Here I was drowning in a sea of negativity and this complete stranger wanted to give me a blessing. I was familiar with the tradition that a bride has the power to bless others and I was hungry for her words.

A shiver ran through me. How could she have possibly known that this was the exact blessing I needed to hear?

Her face was radiant as she spoke: "Today is the beginning of the Hebrew month of Iyar. The symbolic meaning of the month is healing. I want to bless you and those close to you with health and wellbeing."

A shiver ran through me. How could she have possibly known that this was the exact blessing I needed to hear? A blessing for healing for my beloved Danni, and for myself too.

I’m sure the tears in my eyes and the prickles on my skin were caused by the blast of hot wind as she opened the car door. The lump in my throat notwithstanding, it was easy to bless her in return with the traditional words used to bless a bride.

In a bit of a stupor I headed in the opposite direction. It was Rosh Chodesh Iyar; how could I forget? Thoughts of Iyar filled my head. Every Hebrew month has a unique attribute, and Iyar's attribute is healing. Iyar is a Hebrew acronym for "Ani Hashem Rofecha" – "I am God, your Healer" (Exodus 15:26). How apt. I also remembered that Iyar is known as "Chodesh Ziv" – the month of splendor, radiance or blossoming,implying that the month is filled with light that can penetrate the thickest darkness.

Instead of indulging my body, God had plans to nourish my soul. I felt the power of light overcome the darkness I had been immersed in. The despondent Mandy that had driven to the Kibbutz aching for physical comfort seemed years away.

Sometimes when we are in a low place, we just need to listen to the message God is sending us. I thanked Him for giving me the ability to give up on the worldly pleasure that I had so craved, and for clearing the way to do a mitzvah, thus opening for myself a channel of healing and gather strength for the trials ahead.

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