Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hope vs. Prayer

A girl, known as Esti, contributed this story as heard from Rabbi Akiva Tatz to a forum

There was a woman whose son had a brain tumor. She came to a chassidish Rebbe, begging the Rebbe to daven for her son. 

The Rebbe said to her, "Before I daven for your son, I need to ask you one question: If you would know for sure, 100%, that it was Hashem's will should your son pass away, would you be able to accept it?" 

The woman stayed silence for a time, thinking it over, and then finally said, "Yes, I would be able to accept it."

The Rebbe said, "Now we can daven."

While there is an aspect of hope for a desired ending in prayer, davening is not really about negotiating with God. It's about connecting with God. 

Hope should be considered as a separate entity from prayer, but we have to be able to accept possible outcomes before they occur. A physician, Haider Javed Warraich, writes of "The Cancer of Optimism," how unreasonable expectations on both the doctors' and patients' part can have disastrous results.    

Steve Croft reported a few years back on the out-of-control health care costs specifically associated with end-of-life: "Patients, with their families' support, want to cling to life, and it is often easier to rely on medical miracles than discuss how they want to die." 
Hope, in many cases, lead so many to painful, bad deaths, when the ill or elderly undergo treatments at their or their families' behest that doctors know will have little or no effect. Dying peacefully at home, while desired by all, is a rarity, as medical establishments require patients to stay financially solvent, and patients oblige by not facing reality. "Collectively, as a culture, we really have to acknowledge that we are mortal," said Dr. Ira Byock to Croft.    

As Dr. Warraich writes: 
Modern palliative care originated in response to the proliferation of new treatments and resuscitation technologies. Keeping a patient “alive” became easier. And yet the definition of “alive” suffered — with quality of life frequently being usurped by length of life.  
We can become so focused on only one version of an ideal ending that we can overlook what is best, as a whole. Dr. Warraich had an elderly patient who refused to acknowledge her mortality, and when the doctors advised that it would be more humane to make her comfortable than to treat her further: 
But there was nothing we could do to uproot the horror of irrational optimism that had spread through her body like a cancer uncontrollable.


FrumGeek said...

You hang out in the inshidduchim forum?

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

It doesn't help that on television medicine is portrayed as performing all these amazing miracles that in real life simply don't happen.

Princess Lea said...

FG: Why am I on the defensive? Not exclusively, no. An idle drive-by.

MGI: "It's, it's ALIIIIIIIVE!"