CREDOS : Suffering — III

It is important that our lives are bound to one another — that in the connections we have to one another we experience what it means to truly live. As philosopher Martin Buber taught, we meet the sacred in the place that exists “in between” one another. A spiritual path centred on the self is only partial. In articulating a Jewish spiritual approach, we highlight our connections to each other, reflecting on the ethical teaching of the early rabbis “all the people of Israel are reliant on one another.”

There is a profound integration in a Jewish spiritual approach, one best articulated by the 19th century sage Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav when he said that a person reaches in three directions: Inward, to oneself, up to God, and out to others. The miracle of life is that in truly reaching in any one direction, one embraces all the three.

Reaching in, up, or out is no easy task for any person. It would probably be easier to deny that disease causes any change. But as difficult as it is to be honest about your fears of the future prospects, it is only by articulating those fears that a vision for the time ahead will emerge in our consciousness.

The Jewish approach to serious illness does not deny the reality of the disease, paper over the suffering, or expect “presto you’re healed!” miracles. The approach acknowledges that living with disease or debilitation is a profound challenge, which requires courage, sensitivity and reflection. —