A Meletz Yosher – May 6, 2020

On Thursday of this week I commemorated my mother’s yahrzeit. Seven years ago my mother’s soul was returned to her Maker. At that time the traditional blessing was given – that she serve as a meletzas yosher, a strong advocate, for her family and for everyone who knew her and loved her. This yahrzeit that blessing – that she be a meletzas yosher – took on new meaning for me.

Let me explain.

During the last several years of my mother’s life, she was stricken with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); historically a fatal disease. That is until a year before my mother’s diagnosis when a revolutionary new genetic drug, Gleevec, was developed and approved. Gleevec, literally, became an instant life saver for anyone suffering from this form of Leukemia. There was only one catch – each prescription cost a huge fortune – far beyond the financial ability of anyone except the extremely wealthy. Thankfully, we were able to enroll my mother in a special program that allowed her for a more reasonable sum to get this very expensive life saving drug.

Fast forward to my year of aveiuls.

My home is a regular stop for meshulachim, charity solicitors, of all types. Sundays and weekday evenings there is a regular flow of men in black coats (sometimes women, as well) who knock on my door seeking donations for either an institution or for themselves. In our community every solicitor must present a certificate from the local rabbinate before they are authorized to solicit. Typically, the certificate gives only a brief superficial explanation of the need. It does not give much meaningful insight into the real life situation of the person. Then, one evening seven years ago, that changed. An Israeli gentlemen in his sixties, dati but not charedi, knocked on our door seeking a personal contribution. He handed me his certificate and a single word glared at me – GLEEVEC. He suffers from CML and is allocated by the Israeli health system a partial, insufficient, prescription. We gave him a generous contribution and wished him good health. Afterwards, my wife and I were discussing what had just transpired and agreed we had made a mistake. We should have given him enough money for a month of Gleevec – after all this was, literally, a case of saving one’s life. But we had no way of contacting him.

Luckily, the next year he came again and we able to properly contribute to his health. And since then, year after year, he has returned and though his visits would last only a few minutes we have developed a bond with this lovely gentleman from Israel. And then the pandemic hit. He did not come. We wondered would we ever see him again? Did he survive the pandemic.

And then yesterday, on my mother’s seventh yahrzeit, there was a knock on the door. The Gleevec man had indeed survived and he returned for his annual visit. We were so happy to see him and contribute once again to his health.

This yahrzeit I have gained a much deeper understanding of what it means for the departed to be a meletz yosher. My mother is not waiting to advocate for me after 120 years. She continues to do what mother’s do – caring for her children every minute of every day. And so she enables us to fulfill the greatest of mitzvos year in year out – helping top sustain the health of the lovey gentleman we call the Gleevac Man.

May my mother’s neshama have an aliya.

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