“How did you get into this?” “Why did you get into this?” I get these questions all the time. How did a Stanford graduate in international relations get into helping women who are trying to conceive with the assistance of (a lot of prayer! and) alternative medicine? The “how” is answered by the “why,” and the “why” is answered by my story.
My husband and I were married nearly four years, and had gone through numerous fertility treatments. Nothing seemed to work, as we ran from doctor to doctor.
My husband and I were married nearly four years, and had gone through numerous fertility treatments
I went through ups and downs—moments of hope and moments of disappointment. My husband and I had each other, of course, and we grew so close due to the experience, but I still felt so alone. Could anyone understand what I was going through? I felt like a pincushion, as each shot of hormone was injected into my body. I lost my always-present smile, as I was on an emotional and physical roller coaster. I wanted to give up, and yet I knew that I couldn’t. There were times of despair and of asking, Why? There were times when I said, Enough. Stop waiting, stop wanting, live your life.
After nearly four years, a friend suggested giving alternative medicine a try. We looked into it, and went to a recommended religious practitioner. I walked out from his office sobbing. It was the first time that anyone had ever looked at me and asked me how I am. I wasn’t just a name on a record. I wasn’t just an ultrasound or x-ray; I wasn’t just a blood test. I was a person. The practitioner was humble. He didn’t make promises, and yet he gave me hope. He was thorough, he was professional, and he made me feel like a human being instead of an object. Later I found out that he himself had been married for years without children.
We gave it a try and, thank G‑d, had a healthy boy less than a year later. I had a beautiful pregnancy, a beautiful birth, and I told my husband, “I want to learn, and I want to help other women.” That was almost eight years ago, and now, thank G‑d, I have a list of women in whose process to conceiving or birthing a child into this world I have merited to have a part.
He didn’t make promises, and yet he gave me hope
The king of Persia, Achashverosh, was in search of a wife after having sentenced his queen, Vashti, to death. The search dragged on for four years. Thousands of prospects passed through the imperial agencies, but none even came close to finding favor in the eyes of the king.
One woman, a Jewish orphan named Esther, was hidden by her devoted cousin, Mordechai, who was prepared to risk his life to prevent her from being taken to the palace. She was spotted, and taken—against her will—to the palace. The search came to an end as Esther, whose name is related to the word seter, which means “hidden,” became chosen as the queen.
Can you image what she was thinking? I know what I would be thinking: Why? Why me? Why this? The reason was hidden from her, but not knowing the “why” didn’t shake her. By order of her cousin she concealed her true identity, and continued to stay connected to Mordechai and to her faith.
In the meantime a wicked man, Haman, rose to power. He devised a plan to kill the Jewish people, and with the consent of the king the decree was sent throughout the Persian empire that in eleven months, in the month of Adar, all the king’s subjects should attack and kill all the Jews. Soon after the terrible decree became public, the hidden became revealed, the mysterious “why” answered. Why had Esther been chosen as the queen? Mordechai informed her:
Queen Esther was a messenger. It is within all of our powers to be a messenger
“Esther, Providence brought you to this unlikely station for a purpose, and you must fulfill it. Now is the time for you to speak up on behalf of our people. There is no time to waste.”
Esther, Queen Esther, understood with these words that she had been chosen as queen and put into her situation so that she could be the messenger to save her people.
Queen Esther was a messenger. It is within all of our powers to be a messenger.
Now, thank G‑d, three children later, my perspective is obviously so different than what it was when I felt that longing, that wanting, those irrational feelings of guilt. But when a woman comes to me for a treatment, I always make myself remember. I look at her in the eyes. I see the person before me, and I try to see the whole picture. And as much as anyone could possibly understand the pain of another, to some extent I do. I am called all the time for medical advice, for support, for a listening ear. I look back now at my journey, and I know that the challenges in the beginning got me to where I am now. I do what I do because I love it, and because I realize that all those treatments—they weren’t for nothing. It’s almost as though I feel like G‑d told me, “I am putting you in this situation so that you will have more understanding, and so that you will use this to then help other people.”
I know that the challenges in the beginning got me to where I am now
G‑d’s name is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther. The sages teach that the path a person wishes to take is the path towards which he’ll be directed. You could look at your life and all the challenges and say to yourself, For what? Why? What a hardship, what a waste. Or you could look at those very same challenges and say, What a hardship! Let me use what I learned from this experience to help others. Let me use my position, skills, knowledge, money, power, etc., that I have, to help others.
The whole story of Purim teaches us that everything is for a reason. We have a choice to see it, or to keep the reason hidden.