One of the most fundamental actions conducted in the name of faith in God is to assist the sick, the injured, those who suffer in their bodies and souls. It is a strong and a high priority. Since ancient days, the Christian hospices, clinics, hospitals, convents and monasteries have been dedicated to the assistance to the needy and the poor, but also the elderly and the sick and their families. At the present, it must be admitted that the best organized system is the Catholic network even if it faces some difficulties.
The Orthodox Church, present in the Holy Land since the Apostolic times of the Early Church and considered as the Mother of all the Churches, has no permanent elderly home for the pensioners and the retired bishops are hosted by Catholic houses. This is a part of our responsibility, as Orthodox believers to develop a true and authentic system of assistance for the believers. It shall certainly be a priority at the moment for the new patriarch Theophilos and he is willing to update the actions.
"Anyone says "I love God" but hates his brother is a liar; whoever loves a brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). The Eastern Orthodox Church of Jerusalem has and will always have ahead of her an immense task to help spirituality all the inhabitants of the Israeli society, Jordan and Palestine. Wounds and scars of wars, history, cross-time dramatic situations have hurt and constantly wounds the inhabitants.
The arrival of the numerous newcomers in the State of Israel does constitute an important and numerically rather clear number of faithful, especially among the doctors, physicians, surgeons, medicine professors, male and female nurses and simple room cleaners in the hospitals. These people often dare show their faith in a natural way. I visit the children and also people suffering from traumas in Jerusalem other diseases in Tel HaShomer (Tel Aviv), Soroka in Ben Gurion hospital in Beer Sheva. It is a tradition to visit the sick every week and especially during the feast of Passkha-Anastasis. For the Jews, it means three full days before the Feast of Easter, often combined with Pesach because of family days-off and possible visits. Visits to the numerous victims of diseases: the alcoholics, to those who were deeply injured during a terror attack. There is no difference in an Israeli hospital between nationality and faith at this point.
Thirty years ago, at the hospital of Nazareth, yes, people used to compared the rites and customs of each Church, which was funny in a way and normal. Then, we understand that the country does count a lot of Orthodox faithful. It is a must to visit them, to confess and bring them the Holy Gifts during this period of Resurrection that is the answer to the Way of the Cross/suffering - Derech Yissurinדרך יסורין - in Hebrew.
This can also question the Church because our Sacrament of the Holy Oils is long, tiring for a sick person that cannot follow the texts adequately. I often have to give the Oils in a situation of emergency. It is also beautiful then that the Jewish personnel - many doctors or surgeons are also learned talmudists or rabbis - would remain silent and give time to pray with much decency. Their presence, with other co-workers of all denominations, prove a real respect of God.
Priests and all people dedicating their lives to God are constant witnesses of His goodness. In this country, this is also the possibility to heal through conversation and trust and not by framing each other, rejecting the foreigners and aliens. Encounters are a major action in the service of the Church, as of the Jewish communities, not because it would be useless to proselytize: people here are thirsty to speak and get into contact.
Great Lent is a time for visiting the sick without focusing on our own destiny. We often perform good deeds in order to be refunded in terms of divine gratuities or graces, gracious acts towards ourselves or our fellow people. And then we think we are entitled to glorify our actions as being sustained by God Himself. We know nothing. Jesus says to his disciples that the Son of Adam does not even recognize those who visited him in jail, when he was sick, naked or hungry (Matthew 25:36). Religious people are more likely to be sensitive to actions that are linked to eternal life, i.e. the quest of what resurrection means: thus, it requires no limits in time. Good deeds also imply that we are respectfully handling the people we want to help and not to harass them either by our presence, words of comfort or other actions. We are often in the situation when we want a blind to cross the street, while he did not want to cross at all!
The Israeli Kupat cholim קופת חולים and Bituach Leumi\ביטוח לאומי (Medical and social care assistance services) were launched by the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Mea Shearim at the turn of the 20th century. Religious Jews now visit and participate in the researches carried out at Yad VaShem (Deportation Memorial) as a part of a constant prayer that can heal and exorcise old clutching demons.
In terms of healing, there are no demons, no hideous memories; indeed, they are there, but because we betray them: when we discover the unbelievable treason committed towards the concentration camps survivors inside the very Jewish State of Israel. The same applies when some Christian take over should and capture cultures and societies to their own profit. It restricts the goal: God want to heal and to cure and not only concentrate on a few mirroring aspects that will break into pieces sooner or later in history.
True faith can be profoundly wounded by death. Faith know by intimate conviction than life and reinvigorating forces are there as the sign of God's sign that He resurrects the dead (the prayer is said three time at least by the Jews everyday).
This year, the context of an international crisis and threats of increasing war situation in our country require much understanding and patience. Internet has become the modern and up-to-the minute network where opininos can be shared and quickly shared, distributed. It should not convey the mental and irrational deviating reflections that may kill the works of such a wonderful technical tool. We cannot get addicted to this. We cannot use the instrument as a robot. We cannot reduce ourselves to unknown egos and groups. Or we cannot spread hatred and constant quarrels.
We live in different cultural areas. In Israel, we encompass many different ways of living and thinking and we experience how difficult it is to build up a coherent positive open-minded society. This is the challenge that we have to face. Healing is a task that envisions all sorts of betterments: sufferings do exist. Many people spend their lives in terrible pains. There maybe different reasons for such a situation. But loving-kindness does exist, not the one we figure out in order to gain power over the others, but when we feel that we are lost and still, God's Finger shows ans saves us.
av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
April 17/4, 2009 - 23 de Nisan 5769 - כ"ג דניסן תשס"ט