What can you say? She was a young woman. Recently stricken with ALS. She had a family. Some of her children were still so small. Can you say, “Everything will be fine.” She’s too intelligent for that. She knows what her diagnosis means. Rav Chananya Chollak, Founder and International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, was called. His sensitivity enables him to speak to people undergoing life’s crises and give them strength to go on.
What can you say? He began the conversation with a story. It took place when Rav Shteinman was still alive. The Rov had honored Ezer Mizion in attending an event for special children. Upon leaving, Rav Chollak thanked him profusely for coming and walked him to the car. The car door closed and Rav Chollak returned to the event. Within moments he was called back. “The Rov wants to speak with you. He asks if it is convenient for you to come back to the car.” Of course, I rushed back.
“Please, Rav Chollak,” he began. “I am becoming old. I soon will have to give din v’cheshbon (be judged in heaven) . I need zchusim (merits). When the time comes, can I say I am a shutaf (partner) with Ezer Mizion?”
I was taken aback. ‘Even though the Rov is so busy, he makes himself available to Ezer Mizion day and night.’
“But can I say I am a shutaf? It’s important. I need to know.”
“Yes! Avadai (of course) the Rov is a shutaf!”
Rav Shteinman relaxed and the car drove away.
What can you say to a young woman suffering from ALS? Rav Chollak continued his conversation with her. “Ezer Mizion needs you as a shutaf. We know the shechinah (G-d) is present at the head of the bed of a sick person. The shechinah is right by you! What an opportunity you have! You can daven (pray)! You can be a shutaf! Please, Ezer Mizion needs you! Please daven for all the sick people !”
Her face lit up. Her role in life was not coming to an end. A very special role was just beginning. She had an responsibility. She was a partner. A partner with Ezer Mizion.
Ezer Mizion provides vitally needed assistance to individuals and their families facing health challenges such as cancer and to the elderly, handicapped and children with special needs so as to empower and assist such individuals in maintaining independence, restoring function, preserving dignity and improving quality of life. Services range from professional therapy to awareness events, from bringing a smile to a small cancer patient to providing a sense of self-respect to an elderly holocaust survivor. And at times, we are called to rebuild the shards of a crisis that will, b’derech teva (through natural means) , not have a happy ending.