My husband went swimming this morning in Alon Shuvat . It unfortunately was not the normal trip. A 67 year old man swam in the next lane. Strong clear strokes. Only a year ago he had been huge, tremendously overweight. This past year Shimon, who was the salesman for kibbutz Gush Etzion, where he lived; had been dieting and exercising on a regular basis. He took off 50 or so kilos. And like my husband he liked to go from the pool with a quick drink of cool water into the weight room after changing out of the bathing suit. But he didn’t make it.
He fell right here in the dressing room. A dentist and a physiotherapist, who were changing into gym clothes standing, next to him, immediately started artificial mouth to mouth resuscitation (CPR). As time goes extremely slowly when there is a crisis it seemed to be an extended wait before MDA showed up and they try using defilator paddles. It was not successful.
Shimon, who had lost the weight, had taken on exercise; still had heart failure. It just doesn’t seem fair.
But that is just it. Life isn’t fair. Not in our eyes. I heard once that a modern bat mitzvah girl took G-d to task and challenged something written in the Bible as inhumane and unfair and proudly said if she had been G-d she would have done it differently.
To challenge G-d, make deals with him, to question His ways is normal and part of the Jewish lore; we all hear from time to time. But to think we actually know better is perfidy. And that is why the religious when hearing bad news as such; answer with a bracha, Baruch Dyan Emes “Blessed the Truthful Judge”. G-d is true; we don’t know the whole picture.
We don’t know if he really had a reprieve and he was really granted another year because of all his efforts, or that he was spared from a worse death. Always there is what to be thankful even in a surprise death.
We have our duties to try to help the sick and comfort the mourners:
המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
May the Omnipresent console you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.