Have you ever been in the situation where you sit at the bedside of someone you love who is barely hanging onto life?
There is a feeling of both helplessness and urgency, for you care so deeply, and the time that you do have is vulnerable.
The rabbis of old classify such a person who is barely hanging onto life as a ‘goses’, and there are strong suggestions on how to interact in their presence, even though they are acutely passive.
One such piece of advice from our sages is that we are not allowed to talk about their death, or what will happen afterwards, in their presence.
Because they opine that the ‘goses’, in some way or form, can hear what we say. AND, that what we say in their presence, even the mood that we create around their prone body, will affect them profoundly. Who are we to take away hope for them to live with assumptions we might audibly put forth?
This is not to say that their life will not run its natural course…and often we can do nothing about their death…but we can do something about their final weeks, days, and hours.
The same applies for those whose death is even less certain, those who are in a coma and are fighting (with their family and doctors) for their lives. What we say, and do, in their presence matters!.. or so say our sages.
Modern medicine concurs, with its own terms and language. Likely you have heard that “hearing is the last thing to go.” The doctors themselves will, when pushed, admit that this is only a theory. At the very least it is a comforting one to those of us around the hospital bed.
But what if there were some proof of this?
Maybe not definitive proof, but enough to lend credence to both the Jewish sages and the modern physicians. Would that inform one of your past experiences, or help you for what many of us will someday have to engage?
This coming Wednesday night (Feb 5th, 7:30p), we will get to hear from our congregant (and my good friend) Stu Dunowitz, as part of our TE Talks series. The title of Stu’s presentation is “Seven Weeks in I.C.U.: Survival 1%- What I know now and wish I’d known then.”
Stu, his family, and our community are blessed (in the truest sense of the word) that Stu had a miraculous and full recovery against overwhelming odds. What he experienced, and what he remembers, from being in that “goses’ state will both inspire, and confirm, what our Sages and healers have long suspected.
Friends, this will be well worth your time. Bring your people.