Rabbi Y. Perr shlit”a relates a personal story about two of his father’s cousins, Gittel and Faigel. Gittel was around ten years older than Faigel and was elderly and needed care. Faigel took Gittel into her home where she faithfully took care of Gittel day and night.
After a few years of this arrangement, Gittel passed away.
Now that she was no longer taking care of her sister, Faigel had some time to take care of herself. Faigel had a knee that needed to be replaced and she decided that now was a good time to do it.
Shortly after the procedure, Rabbi Perr went to visit Faigel in the hospital. When he arrived, Faigel was not in the room. He found Faigel’s husband looking ashen.
“Where is she?” Rabbi Perr asked.
“She’s in the ICU.” Faigel’s husband answered. “This morning, before I came to visit her, she was served a bagel for breakfast. As she was eating, she began to choke. The doctors rushed in and performend CPR, but she’s still not responsive .”
Shortly after, Faigel passed away.
Rabbi Perr spoke by the levaya and pointed out the unlikely way the Faigel died – in a hospital from choking while surrounded by doctors! It made very little sense.
It’s possible that Faigel’s time to go may have come earlier, but it was the merit that she had for taking care of Gittel that kept her alive! We thought that Faigel was helping Gittel, but really Gittel was helping Faigel!
Often in life we make assumptions about the challenges we face. We usually don’t realize the benefit we receive from them.