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Rabbi Brad on Finding God in the Midst of Fear


Friend of the show Rabbi Brad Hirschfield chats with Father Dave about the fears around Coronavirus and how we can find God during such a difficult time.

Father Dave asks Rabbi Brad about experiencing God virtually. “As a matter of history, telephones became popular, and people said ‘Maybe for business, but we’ll never really be able to talk about deeply meaningful spiritual things on here.’ And before that there was a printing press, people said, ‘You know, books are fine, but if you really want wisdom and spiritual edification, you have to sit at a mentor’s feet.’ So we’ve been here before and it doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it means we have reason, not only faith, but reason to believe we can help ourselves and each other through this if we will simply enter it as fully as we can with as much compassion and care as we can. And over time what felt strange originally will become normal. ”The truth is every tradition we have started out as an innovation.”

Rabbi Brad also shares advice for those experiencing fear. “Practicing compassion turns out to be one of the most self-caring, healing things we can do for ourselves …  I know firsthand when I began to discover this 16 years ago when I had a lung tumor. I admit, I was scared. You never want to hear a doctor say you have a lung tumor … I go to the hospital to get tested, and they have to put tubes down into your lungs. I was scared. My blood pressure was through the roof. I’m literally silently saying Psalms to myself to try and calm myself down. It’s not working. I really was not in a good place. The nurse was standing in front of me, and I noticed that the nurse was wearing a small cross … I said to her, ‘I don’t care what the faith is, it’s actually really comforting to see you wear that. And it happens to be a really beautiful cross.’”

“She got very quiet and her eyes got very big and she said, ‘Thank you for noticing. I didn’t always wear it.’ I asked her why she started wearing it and she explained that she started wearing it when her son was shipped out to Iraq. I said, “Wow, I can only imagine how challenging that must be for you as a mom.’ She started to cry, and I said, ‘But I also know that faith does things for us and to us that we have no right to expect and could never imagine will happen. But they’re so real. And the only thing I would ask you is would you tell me your son’s name and would it be okay if a rabbi prayed for a nice young Catholic marine?”

Rabbi Brad says that the doctor interrupted the conversation, saying “I don’t know exactly what you two are talking about because I’m trying to get set up for this test, but whatever it is, keep doing it because your blood pressure has dropped by 30 points. Your pulse has slowed down, your body is relaxing, and it’s going to make this whole thing a whole lot easier. The truth is, the moment I began to care about her, my nurse, I began to get healthy. Caring for others helps us to escape our own fear.”