I had a strange experience today as I was hooked up to my IV. I closed my eyes to rest and listened to the pumping action of the IV, which usually helps me fall asleep. This time my mind played a powerful trick on me. As all the medications began to take effect and I fell into a deep and relaxed state, I felt as if I was back in the Medizinshe Hochshule Hannover in Germany, listening to the same sound of a machine pumping all sorts of things into me to keep me alive. All the fears, pain, loneliness, and frustration came back with a bang.
I had successfully repressed all those feelings while in Germany simply to keep my spirits up and maintain whatever I joy I could find in my existence. I was so successful at repressing those negative feelings that I have never thought about them until today. They were intense, almost overpowering.
How should I deal with all the repressed feelings of so long ago?
“Then any of the diseases that I placed in Egypt, I will not bring upon you, for I am God, your healer.” (Exodus 15:26) We understand that ‘diseases placed on Egypt ‘ as the plagues, but perhaps there is an additional meaning.
The Children of Israel suffered through many years of horror. Perhaps, they too, as did I, repressed the worst parts as their coping mechanism. If they looked back with fondness at any time in their recent history in Egypt, they were repressing memories. The repressed memories, not matter how well hidden, are diseases that can eat away at us. They are diseases which disconnect us from ourselves and prevent us from developing real relationships.
God was also referring to those diseased memories, promising His people a life in which they would not have to repress painful experiences. Once they learned to live without repressing the negative, the past would reappear, and God promises, “I am God, your Healer,” Who will heal those memories.
Marah was not only a bitter tree (Mechilta) that made the water sweet, it was also a promise, that God would sweeten those memories and turn them into something good, just as He did for me today, when he used those memories to offer another way read these verses.
This has transformed my recitation of the 8th blessing of the Amidah: Refaeinu – Heal Us. The bitter has become sweet.
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