I always get a ferocious migraine when, as an observant Jew, I fast five times a year. The Yom Kippur fast is easily the most difficult because we spend all day in shul davening, praying. At some point, the migraine gets so bad that I can no longer concentrate on my prayers. I just work at managing the pain which involves:
1. Donning sunglasses to shield my eyes from the glare of light; light that feels remarkably like red hot pokers sunk deeply into the base of my neck. On the plus side I look like a totally cool Hollywood dude in my shades.
2. Moving my neck—slowly—back and forth, from side to side, in an attempt to loosen up the spinal muscles which are seizing up like pistons that have not been oiled in a decade.
3. Fighting the rising nausea by working very hard not to think about food. This almost always fails miserably. Hence, the nausea gets far worse.
4. Realizing what a complete pussy I am because if I were a prisoner in, say, Auschwitz, what would I do about my migraines? I mean, the Nazi guards wouldn’t exactly feel my pain and my local kapo would probably just send me to the ‘showers’ because my kvetching was just so annoying. I happen to know an amazing survivor here in Los Angeles who was on a death march when he was 14-years old and carried, get this, his older and heavier and taller brother on his back for over 70 miles. No food. No water. No bathroom breaks. Nazi guards shooting and bayoneting Jews left and right. And when this great man tells me about surviving the death march, schlepping his older and heavier and taller brother in the broiling heat for over 70 miles—I drive four blocks for dinner at Pico Kosher Deli—and I ask him how he did it, he just shrugs and says: “I did it, what’s there to talk about?” So really, I guess what I’m saying is: good thing I’m a happy-go-lucky Hollywood screenwriter w/migraines and not a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz w/migraines.
5. When the pain reaches Def-Con Level 1—Def-Con 5 is standard peace time alert; Level 1 is: bye-bye to civilizations as we know it. America was on Def-Con 3 at the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, and again at 9-11—I start wondering if I’m being punished by G-d with these migraines because I’m like the worst person on planet earth.
7. I think about other stuff—weird stuff—that comes into my throbbing skull like steel rain, but these thoughts, fever dreams, hallucinations, what-have-you, are far too insane to report in any detail for fear of losing my reader’s patience and respect.
There might be relief in sight. Naturally, from Jewish doctors in Israel.
Based on the verse in the Book of Leviticus that “You shall afflict your souls,” many people believe that Yom Kippur is a day of suffering. But the rabbis disagree, saying you’re not meant to suffer, but rather to ignore the physical and focus on the spiritual.
If you get a headache, they argue, you can’t adequately concentrate on your sins and repentance.
Thus headaches on the the Day of Atonement are unnecessary, says Dr. Zev (Jeremy) Wimpfheimer, a senior physician in the emergency medicine department of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Wimpfheimer is testing a drug which, taken in pill form before the fast, will hopefully prevent those fasting from developing a headache. He wants about 200 people to try it before the onset of the 25-hour fast Wednesday evening.
To read the complete article, please click here.
And this important announcement from Jonathan Feldstein, a fine man I met while spending Shabbat in Efrat during my Nefesh B’Nefesh visit.
Please join the American Friends of Magen David Adom at a blood drive in on Sunday October 19 from 9:00 AM to 1:00PM at the Inbal Hotel, 3 Jabotinsky St., Jerusalem.
We urge all those who will be in Israel this holiday season, or at any other time, or if you know others who will be there, to participate. This is a season marked by increased demand and decreased supply of blood, and every pint of blood can save up to three lives.
Moreover, someone will be the 1000th donor for the year, the first time more than 1000 tourists have donated blood in a year in Israel through AFMDA.
There is no more meaningful way to do something hands-on to benefit all Israelis.
Please forward this to others and to share with tourists who will be in the country.
All the best,
American Friends of Magen David Adom
SAVING LIVES IN ISRAEL