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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


There is a Jewish saying, “You have to have “Mazel”(“Good luck”) in life.” Sometimes when you are in the right place at the right time, good things happen; but also under the same circumstances terrible events may strike you unexpectedly. I experienced this two weeks ago when I had to pass a kidney stone.

It came out of the blue. While I was working on an article at home, I felt a sharp pain on my side that I could not shake off. I tried to walk; it did not go away. I tried to lie down; it would not subside. It would ease off a bit, and then come back with a fury. I was in a daze, not knowing what to do. Is this an emergency? Will it go away? I called my doctor but could not reach her. When the pain arrived again, in the third cycle, I said to my wife who, lucky for me, was at home at the moment to take me to the local hospital because I could not bear the pain anymore. Within a few minutes, the ambulance came, and they wheeled me into the emergency room.

There my luck worked like a charm. One of the attending nurses asked me, “Are you Rabbi Sonsino from Needham?” “Yes,” I said, “I lived in Needham for 25 years.” He added, “Then you must be the father of Deborah Seri who tutored my son; she did such a great job!” Subsequently, when another nurse identified herself as a student at Boston College, where I teach, I could not believe my fortune, knowing that I would be well taken care of by two professionals who had some personal connection to me.

My pain continued. They gave me morphine to help me out. I started to invoke all the deities I knew, from the Babylonian Marduk down, to no avail. Not that I really expected any assistance, anyway. Nature has to take its course. (The Rabbis teach, “don’t depend on a miracle”). After a cat scan, it was confirmed that I did in fact have a kidney stone that was going down through the tubes in my body and two more that were lodged in the kidneys. After sedating me a bit more, they sent me home with their good wishes that I pass the stone soon. To my surprise and pleasure I passed the stone the next morning without much fanfare, and returned to life as if nothing had happened. One of my colleagues later on reminded me (facetiously, of course) that this was the real meaning of the Hebrew expression "gam ze yaavor" (“This too shall pass”)!(The doctors will “zap” the other two soon).

That day I realized for certain that I need to give thanks to God for my good fortune, for every healthy day I have, and to try to enjoy life to the fullest, because you never know what the day will bring.

Rifat Sonsino