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Monday, May 1, 2017

Dust Clay And Broken

I have thoughts that I'm not ashamed to admit but I won't often share out of compassion. My worst fear is of causing pain to others.
I have no secrets.

Anything worth doing or knowing reflects truth, values, and morality which, brings light to This World.

Secrets are like ulcers that silently fester, and eat away at their keepers. Secrets are a toxic burden that must be sworn into darkness. Secrets can damage souls beyond repair and perpetuate and spread sadness and misery, and sometimes even drive people to embrace evil and cruelty. 

The burden of living with an incurable illness is constant. It's an enormous responsibility being a human with morals and values that limit my choices. Choosing not to exist isn't an option.

However long or short my future is, it's forced purgatory with terrible side effects. No oncologist, doctor, or surgeon knows how to cure this cancer. My life doesn't belong to me.

I am dust and ashes. Adama, is Hebrew for ground; earth, and that's why the 1st person was called, Adam. The physical and spiritual were dis-joined when Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Humans were sentenced to return to dust and  an expiration date was put on every being housing eternal souls.

Where exactly is God in all of this mess? The human condition either strengthens or weakens faith. If this whole "God business" is nonsense, than we must live in a world that's just cruel, arbitrary, and meaningless. Broken hearts are spiritually open because we become more perceptive, conscious, and thankful for things we once took for granted like just being alive for another day. No matter how trivial or insignificant those "old" blessings may seem, suffering intensifies empathy to the suffering of others.

People expect life to be good. You don't hear anyone crying, "Why me?" when they're thriving and on top of the world. Being human includes enduring pain, loss, suffering, and tragedy. There's really no choice whether or not to live - unless you opt out of life, and that's just not an option if you have faith. Every human feels broken-hearted at times. We pray to be mended or feel bitter about our misfortune.

I didn’t do anything to deserve cancer, and neither did my children, husband, parents, siblings, family, friends or you. Pain is inseparable from Life and without purpose, every struggle is more excruciating than pain itself. Knowing that my struggles accompany my purpose gives my life meaning and empowers me to embrace my journey with love, faith, and joy... most of the time. My expression of these truths, my perspective, on my "tragic" journey creates an illusion of insight, revelation and inspiration. I assure you, I'm nothing more than a broken vessel, dust, and ashes.

Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original. (source: Wikipedia)

Broken vessels slowly deteriorate back into dust. The cracks of this dusty clay vessel have been glued back together so many times and soon the glue will engulf the clay. I'm stuck to the surface like brittle un-fired clay that becomes weaker and weaker from attempts to repair and smooth each breaking crack over and over and over and over....

Like a vase full of flowers, one day the water will evaporate, the stems will rot, and petals and pollen will shrivel and fall. The vessel will be emptied, cleansed, and interred into the ground. It's because our Forefather, Abraham said, "I am but dust and ash," God promised that future generations would earn opportunities to do good deeds with dust and ashes.

"The dust returns to the dust as it was, but the spirit returns to God who gave it" - (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

Our human responsibility is to heal and repair broken vessels but there is no eternity on earth. So, what happened to the broken tablets (10 Commandments) smashed by Moses? According to the Talmud (Bava Batra 14b), the broken tablets weren't buried. They were put in the sacred Holy Ark next to the second, unbroken set. From this we learn that broken pieces are beloved and therefore the broken pieces that remain from loss and devastation stay forever in our hearts and souls.

The importance of preserving the broken tablets with the intact tablets, in the holy Ark, symbolizes and reminds us of our responsibility to be sensitive to people who are broken and suffering. It's our responsibility to reach out and embrace people who live with "broken tablets" in their hearts. Opportunity for acts of kindness and good deeds are made from the pain and suffering of others. My life isn't mine.

Seeds planted in the earth grow into a beautiful plant or a tree and it's a miracle so taken for granted that it's magnitude has faded.

In several places in the Bible, souls are compared to candles which, must refer to fire and light. For me, the fact that our bodies are created to be vessels for our souls is obvious. Fire can exist without a wick but a candlestick requires a flame in order to emit light. Fire and passion are only as great as we are and what we choose to do with them. 

Fire makes light but it can also burn and cause destruction and injury.

Personal tragedy pushes some people away from faith however, people summon God more often during tragedy and catastrophe. People pray and ask for prayers during crisis. 

"God is close to the brokenhearted" - (Psalms 34:18)

Ashes are things we would rather not see, smell, or acknowledge. They remind us of how we took the wrong path, hurt people with our words and actions, and how we "burned" people with our fire. Some of the most admirable and meaningful sacrifices contributions are made to ordinary people. Ashes nurture our ability and willingness to set aside pride and conceit and recognize our failures and weaknesses. Honesty with ourselves and others exemplifies the symbolism of ashes. The ashes are our regrets that we hide beneath our physical facades. Those ashes shouldn't be left on the "sacrificial alter". I constantly think about them and replay how they got there and how I can prevent doing harm in the future.

We instinctually stay near a dying person, so that they don't die alone. Some think that the "World To Come" is a spiritual dimension yet I connect with the belief that the "Next World" is a new stage of life - a better place than This World.

Life goes on, differently than before after a loss. We're burdened with "carrying two sets of tablets"; one broken and the other complete. We carry sadness and joy, the broken and the whole together in the same heart and soul.
 We must relearn how to experience joy without abandoning the sadness of our suffering and losses. 

Broken hearts can be healed, the shards held together by dust, wetted like clay. The wetter the better: The more water between the clay particles, the more they can slide around and intermingle when clay pieces are next to each other. The softer the clay is, the easier it becomes to physically blend broken pieces back together. 

As clay dries it shrinks and the clay particles draw nearer to each other. If a wet clay piece is joined to a drier piece, the wet piece has more shrinking left to do than the drier piece, and it will create stress and want to crack away from the drier piece. We can help heal broken hearts when we stay soft and wet; more sensitive to those that need our love and support. 

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:7-8)

God didn't say, "Let there be man!", like He did with other creations. God "breathed into (Adam's) nostrils" and gave him a soul. Humans were created physically, from the dust of the earth, and spiritually from the breath of God Himself.

Every person has free choice to give in to the physical pull; the dust of the earth or to defy physicality and focus on developing their soul.

I know that this vessel isn't mine. The scent of the flowers and the bright colors of the flower petals are part of my soul; not the broken vessel, nor the dust.

I express my truth and I have nothing nor reason to hide. I am broken and whole. I am dust and ashes. I am tired. How broken does a vessel become before it can return to dust? How many times must we mend and glue the shards together before we can respectfully put the broken tablets away?

"With the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for you were taken therefrom, for dust you are, and to dust you will return." - (Genesis 3:19)


  1. Hugs. I daven for you and think about you nearly every day.

  2. I also pray for you almost every day. You write so beautifully. I think your amazing. Sending you lots of love ❤️

  3. Amazing and many tears❤️❤️❤️

  4. You write so poignantly. Truth emanates from your words and therefore pierce the heart. Wishing your vessel a complete smoothing and may your beautiful blooms radiate always.

  5. I do understand, but I have a question:
    Is it better to die or be killed suddenly, no warning or to have the "time" Gd gave you to make memories for others?

  6. Sadly if one dies suddenly I would hope they had made many memories! ...and a relationship with God. If not and were I'll... for me... I would want to lengthen them! Make videos...write letters...mark out birthday cards... stuff that would live on after I am no longer in body! Good question sir!

  7. Oops... small screen I am using! I meant the word "ill"...

  8. Ahava Emunah, thank you for this beautiful post - an expression of your beautiful soul. I have been following your blog for several years. A LLL Leader suggested I read it (after my late-30s year old son died of head and neck cancer). I have been holding you and your family in my thoughts and prayers ever since and I will continue to do so. Your words are very true, "We carry sadness and joy, the broken and the whole together in the same heart and soul." Thank you so very much for always making me think. Please know that you words and their influence reach many spots on this beautiful planet. Blessings and grace as you move forward.

  9. You are in our hearts and prayers ALL THE TIME!!!

  10. Sending love and hugs and prayers to you and your family. As always you write so beautifully. You write of dust and earth. These are the physical attributes we have and are. You write of the spiritual, the soul, acts of kindness...these are what God gave uniquely to mankind and it is what we take with us into the next world. Love and faith and hope are the lights that brighten all journeys in this world, through this world, between this world and the next, and I believe even in the next. May you live always in the light of love, hope, faith, and healing. Davening for you and your family.

  11. Ahava, this is what a Magnum Opus looks like. And a masterful one at that. You have left us all not just speechless, but breathless.

  12. Your writing is beautiful, reflects your soul, beautiful. Hugs & prayers are sent to you everyday <3

  13. Ahava, Varley and I are very lucky to have met you and catch up with David that time in the US. We often talk about your journey. I connect with your musings, please know that we send our love and prayers to you, David and your beautiful family.
    David and Varley
    West Australia.

  14. Dear Ahava Emunah, These are powerful words. When I read, "It's our responsibility to reach out and embrace people who live with "broken tablets" in their hearts," I looked back on my day yesterday and I asked myself if I really upheld this responsibility when I was talking to someone who lives with "broken tablets." Thanks for this wake up call. Wishing you well and a refua shleima. Hope we will see you soon! Love, Shalva

  15. I'm left speechless as Ziva Glanz says speechless . Your an incredible human being and will never be forgotten. May you go into a remission NOW, AND LIVE out the rest of your days with no pain only Joy and love around you. You are so incredibly loved and we need you here. Please may Hashem answer our prayers and create a miracle and a very very long remission with no pain anymore for you or your loved ones . My heart begs for this for you and those who love you. <3

  16. As one of the few men who attended the event at the Dead Sea in 2014, I will never forget you. I wish I could relieve you of some of your pain. Tzvia and I talk about you regularly. I am incredibly proud of you. Hugs, Stefan

    1. I’m touched by your message Stefan - thank you and bless you!