ha ha… made you look!
This post is about my first time donating blood. Sorry, no virgins here. (wink)
I saw the blood mobile in the supermarket parking lot, and I suddenly really wanted to donate blood.
I’ve never done it before. Plus I am a difficult draw. When I get a blood test at the doctor’s office, the nurses frequently have to stab me in 4 different places. After 4, I make them stop. But today I was thinking about the mitzva.
We have an important, if oft overlooked, teaching in Judaism that, as a Licensed Funeral Director, I especially love. The teaching says so much, but a lot of people don’t appreciate its depth. The teaching is that it is good to remember your departed loved ones by doing a good deed or an act of kindness in memory of them. Here’s how it works and here’s what it means…
It seems simple enough, right? But this teaching is SO DEEP.
You see, when a human being chooses to perform a mitzva (which can be loosely translated as doing a good deed or an act of kindness), God the Creator is pleased. However, a person needs a body to do an act of kindness. She needs hands to feed the poor or a mouth to speak kind words. Because dead people no longer have the use of their bodies, they’re out of luck. No mitzvas for them. No making God happy (from mitzvas) for them. So how do they progress once they are simply spiritual?
They progress by riding my chariot. I have hands to build houses for the poor. I have feet to participate in fundraising marathons. I have a mouth to speak kindness. I have eyes to read books for the blind. I have a pocketbook to donate funds. When I do an act of kindness and verbally tie it to my grandmother, her soul gets an aliya (a lift). Awesome. It’s a win-win.
But what is this teaching really saying? It insists that a human being has an eternal soul. Even after they are long departed from this physical existence, they still continue to exist in an individual form that can and does have an individual relationship with God and with me. My action pushes them to a closer unity with the Divine. Did you ever lose someone who you thought was maybe a bit of a jerk? Well, it’s not too late for them. You can go full-throttle crazy doing charity in their memory and they will benefit from it. It’s not my opinion; it’s Torah.
Back to the blood mobile… I have a friend who is in considerable pain, both emotional and physical pain. Currently, he has a heel spur in his left foot that shoots excruciating pain the full length of his leg up to his torso. I imagine it must be very distracting, so I made a bargain with God. A bargain with God?!!! (This is a very Jewish idea.) I told God that I am donating my own blood to save the life of three strangers and I am doing it because I want a complete healing for my friend with the heel spur pain. Bargaining with my own blood shows how serious I am. Of course, the Infinite Creator Of Everything does not have to accept my offer; but He does say, “I show mercy to whomever I want to show mercy to.” He is also “My Father” (or Mother, however you look at it). He loves me and enjoys it when we kids bless each other and behave lovingly to each other. So I asked him to heal my friend and I sweetened my request by providing the O-positive blood that could potentially save the life of three other people.
Like I said, I never donated blood before. I was excluded for years because of my occupation and for more years because of my significant fear of needles; but I did it today. While I was laying on the donation couch in the blood mobile, I had a lot of time to think. Too much time, it was very slow going. I recited Psalm 23 so the recipient of my blood would feel good while they were getting it. Positive energy and all that, because “we are what we eat”, you know. After the draw, the nurse gave me a free pass to the movies. I think I’ll go see a vampire movie.
“Virgin Blood Draw” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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