You can be sure that Moshiach is fast on the way. How do I know? If 30 years ago, someone would have told you that the State of Alabama would be chock full of spiritually thirsty BTs and Bnei Noach in search of emuna, would you have believed them?
Candie Davis is an amazing human being. See for yourself:
Dear Rabbi Brody,
Your Outreach Project is a blessing far greater than words can express. It is difficult for me to write like this, I'm the type that sits quietly in the background listening and learning. So please don't feel obligated to respond or write back. What you are doing is so important and I don't want to distract you from it for even a moment.
I have been searching all my life (I'll be 55 in a few weeks) to learn about Hashem. Being a stubborn person has finally paid off! Let me give you a quick background. We have something in common, I too, am originally from the D.C. suburbs. Born and raised in Fairfax, Va. I came from what they would term now-a-days as a dysfunctional family. As a child, my entire religious education was provided by Cecil B. DeMille and other film makers. (Remember how channel 7 and channel 20 used to show movies like Jacob and Joseph late at night during the Passover season?) I can remember back as far as 8 or 9 years old, alone in my bedroom, crying out to Hashem for help.
So one morning my mother told me to get dressed, she said she was going to send me to church. I'll never forget it. We pull up in front of this big huge building, strangers everywhere and I'm told to get out of the car and just go in and somebody will show me where to go. I shut the car door and was standing there all alone and scared. Thinking that I was going to learn about Moses, David, etc., I summoned the courage to walk inside. Once inside I never heard anything about Moses or David. And Hashem was not there.
So fast forward to 1983. Friends told me that the reason I didn't find Hashem in the church as a child is because it was the wrong church. Trying to be open minded I said ok and for the next year and a half visited different type of churches. The things they were teaching there really irritated something inside me. It was like listening to someone scratch their fingernails on a blackboard. I wanted so much to learn about Hashem but I could not accept the things they were teaching. Then I had a dream that had a huge impact on me. I dreamed that the church had outhouses inside of it (the kind like you see at construction sites or campgrounds) and something told me unclean! I never stepped foot inside again.
About that time some Jewish friends invited us to Torah study. I jumped on that offer! I know you like John Denver music, remember that one song he sang about "going home to a place he'd never been before"? Well, that is how I felt. No fingernails on blackboards there! It was wonderful and that first visit something very unusual happened to me that had never happened before and has never happened since. I hope you don't think I am crazy, but this was very real. Everybody was singing (in Hebrew) and suddenly I heard a thought that did not come from my head. I heard it so clear. I heard this: "These are my people". My hair stood on ends and tears filled my eyes.
That next year was one of the most enjoyable years of my life. My whole family enjoyed it. We were invited to festivities and my children loved learning about Purim and Hanukkah. We learn the Shema and what it meant. That time period went by too fast. Then one day our friends moved to Israel.
Fast forward again to 1995. The doctors said I had about 2 weeks to live. Sometime earlier I had been the main course meal for a bunch of poisonous brown recluse spiders. To make matters worse, a doctor made a mistake in a prescription medication causing the poison to be distributed throughout my body including my central nervous system. The pain was unimaginable. We lost every material thing, including house, cars, furniture, had to auction off everything to raise cash. We packed the dog, my sewing machine, Ray's tools and moved to Alabama where the cost of living is very inexpensive. Ray could no longer work full time because I needed constant care.
I was not afraid to die. The pain was so bad and I just wanted it to stop. No doctor, not even the one who pronounced the death sentence would help. They didn't want to get involved. Ray was frantic. Although I was weak and in and out of consciousness, I could hear Ray on the phone calling family. They would not even pray with him. After all, we had rejected the church and they didn't want to have anything to do with us. Things looked very grim.
And then early one morning the phone rang...it was David, calling from Israel (the Jewish friend who had the Torah study years before). The fact that he had even heard about our predicament was a miracle in itself. Roy held the phone up to my ear and I heard David praying in Hebrew. The pain began to subside and the recovery began. Death passed over. I spent the year next regaining my strength and learning how to live with the after effects that still linger from the poisoning.
Since then and until recently, I have been wondering why. Wondering why was my life spared and why did I end up in west central Alabama where it is a spiritual desert. Still on my life long quest to learn about Hashem I couldn't understand why I was put here or how I was ever going to learn about Torah in a place that is populated by southern baptists...
...And then the light came, shining through. To quote the words from Matisyahu's song Youth:
"storm the halls of vanity
focus your energy
into a lazer beam
streaming shattered light
unites to pierce between the seams"
It all began last November, when out of desperation to find my granddaughter some decent music to listen to, I went to Yahoo music to search. I was about to give up searching and was getting ready to shut down the Yahoo music thing when suddenly a song was played (the music was randomly played, I didn't even know the song existed). A young man was singing these lyrics:
"You're all that I have and you're all that I need
Each and every day I pray to get to know you please
I want to be close to you, yes I'm so hungry
You're like water for my soul when it gets thirsty"
I said to myself, "He's singing about Hashem! This young man knows Him!" I jumped out of the chair and limped to the back door (according to the doctor's they say I am disabled and need knee replacement surgery - but that's not true - they must not know about Simchat Torah!) and called for Roy to come inside quick, he needs to hear something. The song was King Without A Crown by Matisyahu. I was on that lead like a detective. I needed to find out more information. An internet search led me to the JDub.org music message board. There I learned a lot and for the first time I heard about the Artscroll books. This past summer, during the war, several people were quoting you. And that is how I found the "Lazer Beams" website!
I said all of that to say that finally, after all these years and tribulations, finally with the help of your teachings on your website, your cd's and books and my Artscroll Stone Editions of the Chumash and Tanach, I am getting the answers to questions I have had all my life. And at long last, I am learning about Hashem!!!!
I have had a major attititude adjustment, especially my attitude towards all the not too pleasant things that have happened in the past. Now I thank Hashem for everything. Learning how Hashem is in control of everything is such a comfort and a huge relief. Ray and I also thank Hashem for Rabbi Lazer Brody and the Outreach Project. You are reaching people who are stuck way behind the enemy lines!!! The light is shining so bright and it's not stopping at only Jewish outreach, it is shining so bright that even gentiles searching to learn about Hashem are being drawn to it. (I read you posts about the native Americans. I have native American ancestry on both my father and mothers side...hummmmmmm, could it be?) Hashem's compassion and mercy are amazing! Every day is exciting now because I know that with each day, I will learn more.
And about my so-called disability and need for a knee transplant....well, I said no to that. I had a torn cartilage removed from my knee back in the '70's. Over the years there's a lot of calcium deposits and the bones try to grow together. The build up of all that in the knee actually results in the leg becoming slightly longer than the other leg which is normal. Although the doctors have the technology for lazer surgery and can easily remove years of build up and can turn the calendar back on the joints (I know this for certain because the vet did lazer surgery on my dog in the '80's) they refuse to do that because there is more profit in selling knee replacement surgery.
Do I care what the doctors say? No. I resolved to hobble around on a cane if that's Hashem's will. See, I told you, we're talking major attitude adjustment on my part! Well not too long ago I had been catching up on work at my home office. I had a lot to do because I take off and spend time with my grandchildren when they come to visit. I must have been working on the computer for about 14 hours straight. During all those hours of work I'm listening to my favorite songs of Yosef Karduner. I never get tired of his music, so listening to Road Marks for 14 hours straight is no big deal for me. Actually, it helps me do my work.
Anyway, I got up from the computer and dreaded standing after sitting for so long knowing how stiff my knee was going to be. I stood up and something felt weird. I took a step and stopped. Something was definitely different. I took another step. There was no pain, my knee was bending!!!!! I thought, "Whoa, what's going on here????" I put both feet flat on the floor and stood up straight. Both legs were the same length, as if the clock has been turned back 10 years!!! Alone in my office I raised my hands and starting thanking Hashem and then I started dancing and jumping and singing like some kind of kid. Knowing I did need to get rest I came back down to earth and slept for awhile.
When I woke up and jumped out of the bed, without a cane, the joy and happiness started all over again. But of course, I am a "why" person. I wasn't wondering why the blessing because I know Hashem is so merciful, I was wondering why now, at this time. I booted up the computer and went straight to Lazer Beams and there was my answer!!!!! This is what I saw that day on your website: "Shabbat - Simchat Torah: Barometer of Joy". Is that amazing or what???? Before that, I had never even heard of Simchat Torah. I knew about Succoth but hadn't heard of Simchat Torah. Wow, what a lesson!
Signing off from behind the enemy lines in Alabama where Hashem is in command, Candie Davis
Usually I edit letters quite heavily; you have my promise that I didn't touch Candie's letter - I only changed her name to protect her privacy. Nevertheless, Candie's emuna is burning so bright that all the folks in Alabama probably can guess who she and her terrific husband Ray really are. The greatest part about Outreach is the privilege of meeting people like them.
The age-old art of Abir, the ancient Hebrew Combat Art that has been passed down from our forefathers via a select few to this very generation, is an "endangered species". Read all about, G-d willing, it in tomorrow's Lazer Beams.