For the previous Parts of a Bridge to Somewhere click here.

-- 51 --

Date: January 04, 2007

Chat

Eliezer: hi

Mario: hi, Eliezer

Eliezer: How are you?

Mario: They gave him another blood transfusion. It's the second one he got.

He has a condition called hemolitic uremic syndrome.

Eliezer: What does he need in order to get better?

Mario: You can get it by eating meat that has not been cooked enough. It has no antibiotic cure. The germs release a toxin that damages the kidneys. Luckily, according to the doctor, it seems to be very mild.

Eliezer: How does it get cured?

Mario: Unfortunately, all we can do is wait until the toxins stop acting and hope that there has not been much kidney damage.

Eliezer: What a feeling of impotence!

Mario: Exactly. In the meantime, he appears to be OK, somewhat uncomfortable, of course. The uncertainty regarding how the process will develop is very nerve wracking.

Eliezer: I don't know how much it will help, but I send you a hug from here, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Mario: Thank you. Of course it helps, expressions of affection always help. I hope to have better news next time.

Eliezer: Hopefully.

Mario: Thank you.

Eliezer: If I can help in any way, please let me know.

Mario: Maybe, with your faith you can help. Once again, thank you.

Eliezer: Now that you mentioned my faith...

I think that you with yours can accomplish more than me with mine...

G‑d is used to hearing me. However if YOU show up... He'll fall off His chair...

It will draw more attention...

Mario: True. We wouldn't want that to happen, now, would we?

Eliezer: Why not? We want Him to respond...

Mario: I was referring to Him falling off His chair...

I was kidding…

Eliezer: I meant it in a positive sense..

Mario: I know. I was just playing along with you... Maybe you are right…

Eliezer: I can imagine G‑d saying: "You won't believe who came to see Me today..."

Mario: I might do just that.. At least accompany my daughter with a blessing

Eliezer: great… I will do that which I know to do, besides kidding.

Do you speak Yiddish?

Mario: I understand everything. I speak very little, though.

Eliezer: There is a saying in Yiddish: Tracht gut, vet zain gut.

Mario: Think good and it will be good?

Eliezer: Exactly. As a doctor, I am sure that you've seen how a patient's attitude can affect his condition.

Mario: True. That's what faith is all about. Hope.

Eliezer: If one has faith, one fights... and wins... Do you have time for a joke?

Mario: Of course.

Eliezer: There was this fellow who was in a big rush to get to an important meeting and couldn't find a parking spot.

It was an important meeting.

He turned to G‑d, and implored: If you get me a parking spot, I promise to start eating only Kosher!

Nothing happens.

Desperate, he ups the ante:

I promise to keep Shabbat as well.

And Tefillin every day!

All of a sudden he spots a car pulling out right in front of him, leaving him a perfect parking space.

Hey, G‑d, forget the deal, he says, I already found a spot...

Mario: Very good!!

Eliezer: anyway, may G‑d help you...

Mario: I hope so.

Eliezer: ?????

You hope that WHO will help you??

Mario: I knew you'd point that out!!!!

Eliezer: :)

Eliezer: let's just leave it at that ...

For now... :)

Mario: ok

Eliezer: regards

Mario: Thank you. As usual, it's been a pleasure.


-- 53 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: April 4, 2007

Dear Eliezer:

Best wishes for a happy Passover for you and your family.

My grandson is thankfully better, and is already home. They must make periodic tests, but I think the sickness is in remission.

I thank you for all that you certainly did for him.

Regards,

Mario


-- 53 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 5, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

Thank you for the good news.

May we always be able to give one another good news.

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 54 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: April 18, 2007

Dear Eliezer:

How are you? Fortunately things here are settling.

My grandchild is better, and of course I am much calmer.

I am reading the book Matters of Science and Faith (Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe), where he makes an intelligent comparison between Torah and Science. He maintains that Science is based on probabilities (which means to say that they are not absolute truths), whereas faith is based on revelation and the oral and written transmission of millions of people throughout thousands of years.

It's something to think about: why would one be truer than the other? In fact, the Rebbe points out that they don't contradict; the Torah gives an explanation for every scientific "fact."

Okay, dear Eliezer, I was thinking about what happened with my grandchild precisely during Passover, where the home of my son's first born was skipped over.

Regards,

Mario


-- 55 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 18, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

I was really happy to get your email after such a long interruption, and with good news to boot. May you always have good news to share.

Regarding what you quoted from the Rebbe, if I remember correctly and understood it correctly, I think the idea is that Science begins to develop itself from zero and then proceeds onward, evolving, newer "truths" replacing older ones. Scientific truths are only true "for now." By contrast, the Torah's truths are revealed from Above and therefore not subjected to change.

Obviously one must first believe that G‑d gave it. One who doesn't believe, doesn't believe... But even one who doesn't believe, what is it that he doesn't believe in? In the Torah's system.

The Torah "system" contains truths 1) revealed by 2) G‑d, in contradistinction to the scientific system that consists of truths 1) discovered by 2) man, which are merely true for the time being. They are two systems that operate with very different rules.

This difference does not imply mutual incompatibility, but rather that they complement each other. Science teaches us how to do things, while the Torah teaches us when and for what they should be used.

What do you think?

Eliezer

P.S. I found it very interesting what you pointed out about Passover. Passover ("Pesach") means "to skip over" as well as "jump." Being that G‑d skipped over your son's home, perhaps it would be appropriate to respond by "jumping," to take a "drastic" step and free yourself from your intellectual, emotional and behavioral limitations and do something to make Him happy as a "token of appreciation"...


-- 56 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 1, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

Long time, no speak.

How've you been?

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 57 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: May 05, 2007

Dear Eliezer:

I am doing okay. Thank you for your interest. My grandson is also doing well, with periodic checkups and on a strict salt-free diet, being that this condition can affect the kidneys.

My daughter graduated dentist school several months ago and would like to get some experience in Israel. She is working on filling out forms and trying to get herself a place. She would be going for several months, although one never knows because things may come up to make her decide to extend her stay. It looks like she is following my footsteps. After I graduated medical school, I went to Israel to do my specialization. It ended up being for five years. It was a beautiful experience, in spite of the Yom Kippur War that I lived through.

The experience of the war was horrible. I still remember the injured and burned soldiers that I would treat at the hospital (I was working at Rambam, in Haifa), with my wife and son in the shelters in the building where we lived. Anyway, I would obviously never want to experience that again.

Anyway, best regards. Shavua Tov.

Mario


-- 58 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 8, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

Thank you for the email and the good news.

Now that the health situation in your family is under control, perhaps we can resume exploring together the existential questions that so concerned us before.

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 59 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 12, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

What's up?

I Would like to wish you Happy Birthday on the occasion of your birthday.

May it be a year of accomplishments, happiness, health and a flowing and productive correspondence between us... ;)

When one celebrates a birthday, it is an opportune time for reflection and balance-taking. One celebrates his past accomplishments and plans new challenges for the incoming year.

It is human nature to never be satisfied with what one has accomplished and to always aspire to more.

Why is it so difficult for us to be satisfied with our accomplishments?

Chasidic teachings explain that this phenomenon is due to the fact that the essence of the neshamah, the Divine soul, is infinite and cannot be satisfied with limited, measurable accomplishments. Our sages, in the Talmud, have expressed it very succinctly: "He who has 100 wants 200; he who has 200 desires 400."

What, then, is the recipe for achieving happinesss and personal satisfaction?

The only way to attain this elusive sensation of deep personal satisfaction is through accomplishments that have infinite and eternal value.

What is it that gives something eternal and infinite value? Let's see. You can buy a bottle of water, for example, for $1. A short while after drinking it, its effect will have worn off and you will feel thirsty once again. Imagine, however, having given that bottle of water to someone dying of thirst, thereby saving his life. How would you now quantify the value of that bottle of water? Infinite and eternal?

In other words, what you take and use will always have limited value; through giving to others you can generate something of infinite value and thereby acquire real, deep and enduring satisfaction.

Every moment of our lives we are faced with choosing between consuming and producing. Consumption is always limited; producing has the potential of generating infinite and eternal value.

When the Torah tells us about the life of our forefather Abraham, it says that "Abraham aged; he entered in his days."

Our sages explain that the Hebrew term for "entered in his days," "ba bayamim," can also be understood to mean "he came with his days."

The idea behind this is that Abraham was able to justify every day of his life. He had used every day of his life optimally and left a positive balance with enduring value. As his life came to a close, he "brought" all his days with him. Not one was wasted.

Every day of one's life has a unique and irreplaceable purpose and potential.

Every moment of our lives, we must choose between "spending" and "investing" it.

May the Almighty crown your decisions with success.

Happy birthday.

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 60 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: May 14, 2007

Dear Eliezer:

Thank you for your wishes. I was pleasantly surprised, as I do not recall ever having mentioned to you anything about my birthday.

It is true that on one's birthday one thinks a lot about his or her past.

I feel pretty satisfied with myself. Together with my wife I formed a family that makes me proud. Each one of my children has a different way of dealing with life. I didn't agree with some of their decisions, but I definitely think that everyone looks for happiness in their own way, and each one of them exercised their free choice.

In addition to that, I feel satisfied with my work. I think that I would not have been able to dedicate myself to any other profession, and definitely not to any other specialization. Generally, when I enter the room of a patient, there is joy, flowers, and a new life that fills the family with happiness. I, of course, always join the celebration and share the joy. In other fields of medicine, however, one encounters pain and suffering and, logically, that too gets shared.

I agree with you that the value that something has depends on how much you need it; it's a matter of supply and demand. I think that what the soul needs has no measurable value. One cannot put a price tag on that which produces spiritual joy.

Changing the subject, what worries and concerns me is the increasing violence that people are expressing lately. In my city, the amount of hold-ups, robberies, deaths, etc., is very worrisome. Not to mention what is happening in the world at large, with people who, in the name of religion, blow themselves up killing hundreds and thousands of human beings.

What is happening to us? Why so many killings? Where is all this leading to? And all of this in the name of religion, to boot! What sort of religion teaches people to kill fellow human beings? Is it a matter of how one interprets religious principles?

The truth is that all throughout human history, in all different periods, wars, assassinations, and the subjugating of one group by another has been a common denominator. In the majority of the cases, there was some sort of religion behind it. How do you explain this phenomenon? Does religion create conflict and divisiveness?

I do not see how this can change. It seems that the tendency to destroy others is hardwired into the human condition. Take, for example, Cain and Abel.

Anyway, dear Eliezer, thanks once again.

When is your birthday?

Regards,

Mario


-- 61 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 16, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

I was thinking about what you wrote regarding the progressively aggressive situation in the world...

One of the Chasidic principles teaches us that since everything that happens in this world is by Divine Providence, if one sees or hears (about) something, it is not a coincidence; it is Divinely orchestrated that it come to his attention and implies that one can do something about it. One should not give up. There is much that can be done to change the situation, beginning with changes in the educational system...

I do not know what sort of influence you have or can have in the public educational system of Cordoba, but if you are interested in doing something in this regard, either just locally or in order to eventually springboard to national or international influence, I have some ideas....

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 62 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 17, 2007

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

I am replying to your mail of May 14, interjecting my answers (in red) in your original email.

Thank you for your wishes. I was pleasantly surprised as I do not recall having ever mentioned to you anything about my birthday.

--- Don't be concerned about your memory... You hadn't mentioned it to me... There was no need to... I have my sources.... ;)

I agree with you that the value that something has depends on how much you need it; it's a matter of supply and demand. I think that what the soul needs has no measurable value. One cannot put a price tag on that which produces spiritual joy.

--- I think that it's not just a matter of physical pleasure vs. spiritual pleasure, because even personal spiritual pleasure can still be egocentric. The idea is that in addition to the pleasure being from something that is spiritual in nature, it must be something that has objective value, a value that goes beyond one's personal benefit and that will endure even after one is physically gone.

Changing the subject, what worries and concerns me is the increasing violence that people are expressing lately. In my city, the amount of hold-ups, robberies, deaths, etc., is very worrisome. Not to mention what is happening in the world at large, with people who, in the name of religion, blow themselves up killing hundreds and thousands of human beings.

--- In my humble opinion, you cannot put all religions and belief systems into the same basket. Judaism respects every human being without any need for them to convert to Judaism. At the same time, however, it allows any human being to convert and become a part of the Jewish people if he or she sincerely wishes to do so.

The argument that you use in order to blame "religion" for atrocities perpetrated in its name, can be used to condemn democracy as well; Hitler came to power by democratic means...

Obviously any system can be abused...

What is happening to us? Why so many killings? Where is all this leading to? And all of this in the name of religion, to boot! What sort of religion teaches people to kill fellow human beings? Is it a matter of how one interprets religious principles?

The truth is that all throughout human history, in all different periods, wars, assassinations, and the subjugating of one group by another has been a common denominator. In the majority of the cases, there was some sort of religion behind it. How do you explain this phenomenon? Does religion create conflict and divisiveness?

I do not see how this can change. It seems that the tendency to destroy others is hardwired into the human condition. Take, for example, Cain and Abel.

Although this tendency may be human nature, we also have within us the power to overcome it. That is our challenge.

Anyway, dear Eliezer, thanks once again.

When is your Yom Huledet?

--- Elul 10

to be continued...