Happy 7th Birthday Benny

First graders enjoyed doughnuts in honor of Benny’s birthday

Benny had a full day of birthday giving. He started his day early by going to the bakery to pick up doughnuts for his classmates, Rebbi and teachers. After school we went back to the bakery to pick up more doughnuts for the patients and amazing nurses on 4West at Children’s Hospital .  Due to flu season Benny wasn’t able to go up to the 4th floor so the charge nurse, Lauren which happened to be one of our favorite nurses during treatment,  was on duty and met us in the lobby. She practically danced in the hallway and teared up when she saw Benny. She said seeing Benny and B”H how well he is doing, helps her get thru the difficult days. Benny has had an amazing start in first grade. He enjoys learning, reading, math, art and piano.  B”H He continues to bring us tremendous joy each and every day. There’s not a day that goes by without Thanking Hashem out loud, before bedtime for this Beautiful boy. May he be zoche to serve Hashem in the Bais Hamikdosh b’korov. May we be reunited with our fellow friends and loved ones that had an early departure Bimheyra -immediately with the coming of Moshiach.

Thank you for your continued Tefillos for Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah

Brokenhearted – the petirah of Elimelech ben Basya

Dearest Family and Friends –

I sit on a plane on my way home and write to you with a heart broken in small jagged pieces and tears streaming down my face. Most of you have been a part of our small, inauspicious club long enough to know that shortly after Benny was diagnosed with the horrible senseless killer that is Neuroblastoma, in a terrible twist of fate, a disease that hits barely a few hundred children each year, struck within blocks of our home and directly into the deepest part of our hearts.

The beautiful, happy, smart, 7-year old son of our dear friends Malkiel and Bassy – grandchild of one of the people who was so instrumental in our maintaining our emunah in the face of Benny’s diagnosis – classmate and friend of our son Shmuel – was diagnosed with the very same ugly malady. The shared experiences over the next four years meant that we saw and spent time with this special young man and his amazing parents in places nobody should ever have to go and to witness some of their incredible fight up close. Malkiel and Bassy are two of the most special people this world has ever produced – without the slightest bit of exaggeration – and went through the years of terror with more grace than anyone in this situation has any right to be capable of.

Despite incredible parents, who spared nothing in their efforts to find a cure for their beautiful “King Eli”, today the seemingly endless, yet all-too-short, battle did not end the way every one of us had hoped it would.

Eli will be forever remembered for his beautiful smile throughout his battle – for his sharp wit – for his wise-beyond-his-years outlook – for his inner and outer beauty… and for the thousands of individual moments that he brought his unique brand of light into the world.

You, each and every one of you, has davened for Elimelech ben Basya as you knew him for almost four years. Tonight, for one final time, please stop what you are doing and take a moment to daven for the holy neshama of Elimelech ben (Basya) Menachem Mendel Malkiel Gradon who was taken way too early at the tender age of 11… and cry with us a little… or a lot…

Love,

Ari, Faigie, the whole family and especially Shmuel and Benny who had the honor to consider King Eli a royal friend

Chasdei Hashem!

Dear Family and Friends –
We heard back from the doctor a few minutes ago that Benny’s first scan came back clean. While they still perform the confirmatory MRI scan on Tuesday, they consider this to be a “clean bill of health” for another 6 months.

Chasdei Hashem Ki Lo Somnu! We once again give thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for every day he gives us with all of our little miracles. Thank you ALL for your concern and tefillos.

As another note of wonderful news: An hour or so ago, there was a knock on our door and a good friend was there to return a table cloth we lent her two long years ago. This is a special table cloth. It is used for shabbosim in the hospital. IY”H adorable Gittel bas Shoshana Rochel – who has been in your tefillos and ours for years, and her parents, should never have to spend another Shabbos or Yom Tov in a hospital ad me’ah v’esrim. Please keep Gittel bas Shoshana Rochel in your tefillos while she undergoes her at home maintenance treatments and daven that we should have the same news from Elimelech ben Basya and Golda bas Miriam among all other cholei Yisroel.

With love,
Ari, Faigie, “Benny the Brave”, Yocheved, RB, Joey, Shua and Shmuel

Scans today and Tuesday! Please daven for Benny!

Baruch Hashem it’s been 6 months since our last set of scans. Benny continues to be an adorable, edible 5 year old. Every day, we continue to see the beautiful miracle of life represented in his amazing smile. This past weekend he went on his first Chai Lifeline shabbaton and had a blast (with many thanks to the entire Chai Lifeline team – especially Randi, Alyssa, and Benjy) especially acting as DJ Yitzy’s assistant on Motzei Shabbos.

Today, Benny will have scans to ensure that he is still cancer free, B’ezras Hashem. He will also have an additional scan on March 1st.

Please take a moment to daven for Benny and our family for continued Refuah and overall hatzlocha. Please also have in mind Elimelech ben Basya, Gitel bas Shoshana Rochel and Golda bas Miriam who continue down their paths to a complete Refuah Min Hashamyim.

Thank you as always!

Love,

Ari, Faigie and the kids (Yocheved (now in B’nos Chava and doing AMAZING), Rivka Basya (awesome straight A report card), Yosef Tzvi (business is booming), Yehoshua (bar mitzvah just around the corner), Shmuel (got two 100s on this week’s tests!) and of course – not so little “Benny the Brave”!))

Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah

פרק קכא
א שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל-הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי: ב עֶזְרִי מֵעִם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ: ג אַל-יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ אַל-יָנוּם שֹׁמְרֶךָ: ד הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל: ה יְהֹוָה שֹׁמְרֶךָ יְהֹוָה צִלְּךָ עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ: ו יוֹמָם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא-יַכֶּכָּה וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה: ז יְהוָה יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע יִשְׁמֹר אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ: ח יְהוָה יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם:

פרק קל
א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהֹוָה: ב אֲדֹנָי שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ קַשֻּׁבוֹת לְקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי: ג אִם-עֲוֹנוֹת תִּשְׁמָר-יָהּ אֲדֹנָי מִי יַעֲמֹד: ד כִּי-עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵא: ה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי וְלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָלְתִּי: ו נַפְשִׁי לַאדֹנָי מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר: ז יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל-יְהוָה כִּי-עִם-יְהֹוָה הַחֶסֶד וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת: ח וְהוּא יִפְדֶּה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכֹּל עֲוֹנֹתָיו:

פרק קמב
א מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה תְפִלָּה: ב קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶזְעָק קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶתְחַנָּן: ג אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי צָרָתִי לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד: ד בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי | רוּחִי וְאַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי בְּאֹרַח-זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ טָמְנוּ פַח לִי: ה הַבֵּיט יָמִין | וּרְאֵה וְאֵין-לִי מַכִּיר אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּנִּי אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי: ו זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ יְהוָה אָמַרְתִּי אַתָּה מַחְסִי חֶלְקִי בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים: ז הַקְשִׁיבָה | אֶל-רִנָּתִי כִּי-דַלּוֹתִי מְאֹד הַצִּילֵנִי מֵרֹדְפַי כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי: ח הוֹצִיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר | נַפְשִׁי לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ בִּי יַכְתִּרוּ צַדִּיקִים כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי:

BennyDJ

Benny’s turning five!!!

With Shevach V’Hodah, (praise and thanks) to Hashem and to all of you who Davened (prayed) and continues to Daven for Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah, we begin the celebrations of Benny’s birthday week. Tomorrow, we start with his English birthday and next Friday IYH the 8th of Kislev his Hebrew birthday. When discussing what he would like for his birthday, the first thing he said was Moshiach and Moshe Rabbeinu and the other Rabbeinu. I asked him who that would be and he said the one that we open the door for on Pesach. I will IYH begin to post updates of Benny this week of the different milestones he reached this past year.

May we all be zoche to the Geulah Shlema very soon in this month of miracles. 

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Faigie and Ari Brecher 

Team Benny 
   
   

Baruch Hashem – All is well!!!

Dear Family and Friends –

Thank you once again for your תפילות on Benny’s behalf. Benny spent the day going through the battery of tests to see if there is any evidence of the dreaded disease within his system. After 3+ hours under general anesthesia for his scans and EKG, we waited anxiously for the doctors to give us the news. As we were walking into the room, we spotted the doctor in an office across the hall. She looked up from her meeting with her team and says “there’s only good news to report today”! Chasdei Hashem all of Benny’s scans and tests showed up clean and his body continues to recover from its ordeal more than a year after treatments ended.

We wish each of our special friends, especially Elimelech ben Basya (a.k.a. King Eli), Chaya Mushka bas Hadassah Shayna and Golda bas Miriam, similar reports in the very near future. Please continue to keep Benny (Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah) and all of his special friends in your prayers daily.

With great love and gratitude…

Ari & Faigie, Yocheved, RB, Joey, Shua, Shmuel and, most especially, a very happy, very tired, very very brave, not so little 4 year old named Benny

Scans for Benny today…

Dear Family and Friends –

Happy Channukah!!! We are truly thankful to Hashem for the four months of good health that Benny has experienced. He has started school and is (Bli Ayin Harah) doing extremely well. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated his 4th birthday, a milestone that seemed almost impossible only a short time ago. We thank you for keeping him in your tefillos and are sure that you are a big part of his continued good health.
Today, Benny will undergo the ordeal of his testing regimen to ensure that (with G-d’s help) he remains disease free.
We ask you to join us in asking Hashem that his ordeal be limited only to the tests he must undergo and that he be given a continued clean bill of health that will allow him to continue to live the life of a “normal” (ok supernatural) 4 year old boy.
We once again implore you to please include our dear young friends, Elimelech ben Basya and Chaya Mushka bas Hadassah Shaina and Golda bas Miriam who are still, unfortunately, undergoing difficult treatments. Please plead with Hashem that their paths should lead to complete Refuos so that they may live the long productive lives we all expect our children to have.
Elimelech underwent scans yesterday at the same hospital as Benny and awaits a path forward from his doctors. Eli has been battling the same disease Benny fought but his battle has been ongoing for 2 straight years of pain and setbacks. On Chanukah, we are allowed to pray for open miracles. Please pray that Elimelech ben Basya receive the open miracle of a complete Refuah immediately!!!!
We wish our deepest thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support in this long journey and know that our friends, whose children are still suffering, wish you all the blessings in the world for your tefillos.

With deep love,

Ari & Faigie and Yocheved, Rivka Basya, Yosef Tzvi, Shua, Shmuel, and, of course, sweet little Benny!

Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah

פרק קכא
א שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל-הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי: ב עֶזְרִי מֵעִם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ: ג אַל-יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ אַל-יָנוּם שֹׁמְרֶךָ: ד הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל: ה יְהֹוָה שֹׁמְרֶךָ יְהֹוָה צִלְּךָ עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ: ו יוֹמָם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא-יַכֶּכָּה וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה: ז יְהוָה יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע יִשְׁמֹר אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ: ח יְהוָה יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם:

פרק קל
א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהֹוָה: ב אֲדֹנָי שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ קַשֻּׁבוֹת לְקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי: ג אִם-עֲוֹנוֹת תִּשְׁמָר-יָהּ אֲדֹנָי מִי יַעֲמֹד: ד כִּי-עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵא: ה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי וְלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָלְתִּי: ו נַפְשִׁי לַאדֹנָי מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר: ז יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל-יְהוָה כִּי-עִם-יְהֹוָה הַחֶסֶד וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת: ח וְהוּא יִפְדֶּה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכֹּל עֲוֹנֹתָיו:

פרק קמב
א מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה תְפִלָּה: ב קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶזְעָק קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶתְחַנָּן: ג אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי צָרָתִי לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד: ד בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי | רוּחִי וְאַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי בְּאֹרַח-זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ טָמְנוּ פַח לִי: ה הַבֵּיט יָמִין | וּרְאֵה וְאֵין-לִי מַכִּיר אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּנִּי אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי: ו זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ יְהוָה אָמַרְתִּי אַתָּה מַחְסִי חֶלְקִי בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים: ז הַקְשִׁיבָה | אֶל-רִנָּתִי כִּי-דַלּוֹתִי מְאֹד הַצִּילֵנִי מֵרֹדְפַי כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי: ח הוֹצִיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר | נַפְשִׁי לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ בִּי יַכְתִּרוּ צַדִּיקִים כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי:

With Shevach V’Hoda we celebrate Benny’s 4th Birthday .
It was just two years ago that a group of Benny’s friends stood outside on the playground of CHLA releasing dozens of balloons into the sky as Benny looked out of his hospital window (during transplant).
One year ago we celebrated his upsherin with hundreds of Team Benny family and friends.
Today B”H Benny celebrated with his friends in school like a regular kindergartener . The class party will be next week IY”H.
On ז כסלו we will celebrate his Hebrew Birthday where he will have the כח to give everyone brochos IY”H
Good Shabbos!

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Chasdei Hashem!!

Dear Family and Friends,

With deep gratitude to Hashem, we wanted to share the positive news that Benny’s doctors have reviewed his scans and said that he remains free of cancer, Baruch HaShem.

While we don’t meet with doctors to get a complete report until next week, we are thankful for this wonderful preliminary report.

Thank you to each of you for the incalculable impact you have had on our lives!

Love,

Ari, Faigie, Yocheved, Rivka Basya, Yosef Tzvi, Shua, Shmuel and a very relieved not-so-little Benny!!!

It’s that time again! – Tehillim for Benny

Dear Family and Friends –

It’s that time again. The last three months have been a wonderful reprieve and we have seen our family begin to flourish again. We have celebrated many simchos with friends and family and are enjoying a beautiful summer here in Los Angeles. Over the past few weeks, as we have come closer to these dates on our calendar, our level of consternation increases day by day – hopefully without foundation. Today (Wednesday) and tomorrow, Benny will undergo the ordeal of his testing regimen to ensure that (with G-d’s help) he remains disease free.

We ask you to join us in asking Hashem that his ordeal be limited only to the tests he must undergo and that he be given a continued clean bill of health that will allow him to begin pre-school this fall just like all of his little friends.

At the same time, please include our dear young friends, Elimelech ben Basya and Chaya Mushka bas Hadassah Shaina who are still, unfortunately, undergoing difficult treatments. Please plead with Hashem that their paths should lead to complete Refuos so that they may live the long productive lives we all expect our children to have.

We wish our deepest thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support in this long journey and know that our friends, whose children are still suffering, wish you all the blessings in the world for your tefillos.

With deep love,

Ari & Faigie and Yocheved, Rivka Basya, Yosef Tzvi, Shua, Shmuel, and, of course, sweet little Benny!

Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah

פרק קכא
א שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל-הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי: ב עֶזְרִי מֵעִם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ: ג אַל-יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ אַל-יָנוּם שֹׁמְרֶךָ: ד הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל: ה יְהֹוָה שֹׁמְרֶךָ יְהֹוָה צִלְּךָ עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ: ו יוֹמָם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא-יַכֶּכָּה וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה: ז יְהוָה יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע יִשְׁמֹר אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ: ח יְהוָה יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם:

פרק קל
א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהֹוָה: ב אֲדֹנָי שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ קַשֻּׁבוֹת לְקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי: ג אִם-עֲוֹנוֹת תִּשְׁמָר-יָהּ אֲדֹנָי מִי יַעֲמֹד: ד כִּי-עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵא: ה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי וְלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָלְתִּי: ו נַפְשִׁי לַאדֹנָי מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר: ז יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל-יְהוָה כִּי-עִם-יְהֹוָה הַחֶסֶד וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת: ח וְהוּא יִפְדֶּה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכֹּל עֲוֹנֹתָיו:

פרק קמב
א מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה תְפִלָּה: ב קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶזְעָק קוֹלִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה אֶתְחַנָּן: ג אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי צָרָתִי לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד: ד בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי | רוּחִי וְאַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי בְּאֹרַח-זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ טָמְנוּ פַח לִי: ה הַבֵּיט יָמִין | וּרְאֵה וְאֵין-לִי מַכִּיר אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּנִּי אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי: ו זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ יְהוָה אָמַרְתִּי אַתָּה מַחְסִי חֶלְקִי בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים: ז הַקְשִׁיבָה | אֶל-רִנָּתִי כִּי-דַלּוֹתִי מְאֹד הַצִּילֵנִי מֵרֹדְפַי כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי: ח הוֹצִיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר | נַפְשִׁי לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ בִּי יַכְתִּרוּ צַדִּיקִים כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי:

Chasdei Hashem Ki Lo Samnu!!!! BENNY IS CANCER FREE!

Dear Family and Friends –

We sit here with tears of joy streaming down our faces. After 16 months of treatments and three nail biting days of scans – the results are in!!!! BENNY IS CANCER FREE!!!

We know full well that his recovery is due, in no small part, to each and every one of you!!! We’ll share more later but wanted to share the news with the entire Team Benny as soon as the doctor’s shared it with us.

With love and thanks,

Ari, Faigie, Yocheved, RB, Joey, Shua, Shmuel and of course BENNY!!!!

Darkness…

Dear Family and Friends –

Bracha Sara Chaya bas Ronit Naava Tehilla (as many of you have come to know her through this website) was nifteres in Eretz Yisroel this shabbos. Baruch Dayan Emes. Tonight we received the most unwelcome news imaginable. A beautiful, special, sensitive, caring, terrifyingly young Neshama was ripped from this world.

We immediately recalled a beautiful Shabbos Faigie, Benny and Auntie Shira spent with her almost exactly one Hebrew year ago. (Here’s a link to that post: http://www.teambenny.net/2012/07/29/1/)  We recalled seeing her shortly before she moved to Eretz Yisroel at a Chai Lifeline event. What a smile. What an inner beauty.

How her mother and sister sat by her side and said Tehillim for hour after hour, day after day. How her classmates and friends (including our daughter Yocheved) visited night after night.

She fought so hard for so long… all for naught.

In case anyone needed a reminder that this is truly a battle of life and death… here it is. Please daven for her Neshama to take its rightful place near the Kisseh Hakavod. May she be a meilitz yosher for her amazing family and all of the children she touched… including Benny.

May no additional families know the pain her family feels right now. We are with them in thought, spirit and tears. We hope they can feel her love min hashamayim – and hope they feel all of ours from across the ocean.

Love,

Ari, Faigie, Benny, Yocheved and the rest of the family.

WE WILL MISS YOU!!!!!

Kiddush!!!

Dear Family and Friends –

It is with great joy and thanks to Hashem that we share with each of you that Benny (ad meah v’esrim) has completed his final course of immunotherapy.

Tomorrow Today we go home after what we hope will be his final week-long hospital stay. We are thankful to Hashem for the healing hand we felt throughout this entire 14 month journey – and are thankful – at a level we cannot adequately express – to each and every one of you who participated in Team Benny. Your words of tefillah carried the day time after time. Your kindness to our family gives us an inkling of what the Chessed of Hashem is. Your actions on behalf of Benny, and the other children in need, leave us constantly shaking our head in wonder and saying “Mi K’Amcha Yisroel”!

While we still have a road ahead of us to complete Benny’s at home treatments and then further testing over the next two years to ensure that the disease is truly gone, we feel the need to thank Hashem for carrying us for the past year plus and bringing us to this major milestone.

This Shabbos we have the zechus to celebrate milestones with the rest of our wonderful children as well. Yehoshua Elyokim turned 10 years old this past week, Shmuel Tuvia turns 8 this coming week and Rivka Basya is graduating elementary school in the coming weeks.

So join us in our small impromptu celebration this Shabbos at Shaarei Torah (La Brea Ave) – and just to be clear for those concerned… this is not a seudas hoda’ah – just a seuda of hoda’ah.

Davening is 830am, Kiddush to follow.

The Journey IS the Destination

Dear Family and Friends –

The holiday of Pesach epitomizes one of the traits that has sustained Klal Yisroel throughout our history. On these days, we celebrate a series of history altering miracles performed on our behalf more than 3000 years ago. 3000 years is an awfully long time to celebrate… And look at what has happened in between… In aggregate, we have had about 1,000 years of relative peace and tranquility (and that includes over 400 years of the Second Temple era which were far from tranquil, or peaceful). By contrast, during the same period we had 40 years in the desert, years of conflict with the natives in the land of Israel, civil war, two temple destructions during which millions of Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered in the most barbaric way (un)imaginable, followed by 2000 years of pain and suffering in exile at the hands of crusaders, inquisitors, muslims, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Nazis and the list goes on.

Rabbi Nochum Sauer asked in a shiur this past Motzei Shabbos… “Why do we thank Hashem for our redemption… He put us there to begin with! He enslaved us to Pa’aroh!”

So for 3000 years, we continue to celebrate our miraculous redemption from Egypt – as we undergo murderous persecution. Seems insane… and yet, in mere hours, we will sit as Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses at our royal Seder tables, dressed in Yom Tov finery, leaning to our left as a symbol of our status.

Over the millennia, many explanations have been given to answer the existential question of “Why? Why so much pain and suffering for so long? Why, when You are the Master of Universe, the All Powerful, the All Capable, why do we suffer so…? Why not make it easy?”. Here’s a thought.

Many of us know that we were set upon this world with a specific goal. “Success” in this world is measured with a single measuring stick. As David Hamelech says, “V’Ani, Kirvas Elokim Li Tov – As for I, closeness to G-d is for me the ultimate good”.  The goal in this world, and frankly, the goal OF this world is to help Jewish people become closer to G-d.  (In fact, in the next world this becomes the “base” of our numbers system for measuring all other accomplishments. Our reward for each Mitzvah derives its intensity from the level of closeness we have achieved in this world.)

Parents love to give to their children. We want them to have the best in life. We do this because of the unconditional love we have for them. We do this to show them our love and to experience feelings and expressions of love in return. Have you ever seen a super-indulgent parent? Have you looked at their relationships with their children? Often, they start out looking wonderful, big smiles from parent to child and child to parent…  As life progresses and the child comes to take everything for granted, the parents resent the children, the children resent the parents, respect disappears and people are left saying, “but the parents gave them everything… tsk… tsk…”.

This is true on a national level. When we’ve had it good, we have ALWAYS, every single time, grown complacent. (I don’t need to enumerate the countless examples over history.) We’ve come to expect the “good” to continue and have forgotten that the reason we are given things is to utilize what we are given to come closer to Hashem.

I think the message is self-evident. It is why our people can go through all of the incredible pain and still come out strong. It is how we survive the holocaust over and over again throughout history and still survive as a nation of believers in Hashem.

The journey IS the destination… We are often told that the various experiences of life and history are a test… I don’t think this is whole story. I think each of these experiences, even the most brutal ones, are designed to have us turn to our Father and say, “Abba, please help me! Please, take away the pain! It hurts too much!”

The closeness we feel with family and friends during times of strife and struggle – feel much deeper than those in times of joy. Hashem is telling us, over and over throughout history, you are not close enough to me through your happiness so we have to use other means. But these other means are still to bring you the greatest gift, closeness to Hashem.  These experiences are not a test, but rather the test is to realize that these experiences are the same gift as the easy times. These horrible experiences are a “cosmic” gift!

Over the past year, we have come to know this gift of struggle on a deeply personal level. On the second night of Pesach, it will be exactly one year since our family’s journey with Benny began. Many of you have been zocheh to journey along with us. Much like our nation, this journey has exacted a steep price along the way. We have experienced tremendous pain, and periods of intense joy, made all the more joyful from the depths of the pain that preceded them. We have looked at our little boy so bravely endure treatments that would turn the most hardened adult to water. We have seen (and felt) his pain and suffering. We have seen the hurt in the eyes of our other young children when we have had to be away from them so much… When we had so little energy to devote to their lives. We have cried out to Hashem begging Him to stop. Many of you have been through it with us every step of the way. You have all cried out on our behalf – in literally hundreds of thousands of ways – for it to stop. But somehow, I don’t know that this is enough.

I think Hashem wants more. He wants us to change our perspective on the pain and know the reason “why”.

So this Pesach, let’s share the following message with Hashem. Hashem, if you give us the bounty of a good life, we PROMISE not to grow complacent. Once and for all, we will stay “on message” in good times. If You give us health, we will use it to come close to You. If You give us menuchas hanefesh, we will use it to come close to You. If You give us parnossah, we will use it to serve You and Your children.  You don’t need to use pain to bring us close anymore. We get it… the journey IS the destination.

This Pesach, hear our cries. Specifically as we don our Yom Tov best in times of trouble. This is the greatest message of who we are – we are the Chosen people. We are G-d’s people.

Our dear family and friends. Please take a moment at the seder – right before the mah nishtana – at the moment of “Kan Haben Sho’el – here the son asks” (thank you Rabbi Ross) – to ask Hashem to give us a chance to come close to him with only brocha, hatzlocha, brius and nachas. Please ask it on behalf of Benny and all the Benny’s of the world.

Love,

Ari, Faigie, Yocheved, Rivka Basya, Yosef Tzvi, Yehoshua, Shmuel and, of course, Benny

 

 

Good Shabbos – and THANK YOU!!!

Dear Family and Friends –

We want to wish each and every one of a you a Good Shabbos and a huge thank you. Baruch Hashem, we are all home for Shabbos!

As you read in my previous email, Tuesday and Wednesday were very tough days for Benny with 104 plus fever and other serious issues throughout. The serious breathing issues and fevers began within minutes of the start of treatment on each of those days and lasted through the night.

On Thursday morning, as we began treatments, I sent an email requesting your tefillos. Amazingly, despite receiving the same treatment as the other days, Benny’s fever never got above 102 and he stayed fever free for much of the day. His breathing issues were managed far more easily than on the previous days as well. We were able to finish the treatment in the shortest amount of time and begin his recovery process late last night.

So thank you from the depths of our hearts. You all clearly made a difference.

Baruch Hashem, we are home and hope that Benny will recover his strength very quickly!!!

This Shabbos is the 4th Yahrzeit of Benny’s namesake – Zaida Ben Genauer (Binyomin Chaim Ben Moshe Z”L). To learn more about this incredible tzaddik (whose traits Benny has clearly inherited) please visit the following links.

http://www.teambenny.net/sample-page/bennys-bris-remarks/
http://www.teambenny.net/2013/03/15/binyomin-chaim-zaida-bens-4th-yartzeit-shabbos/
http://www.teambenny.net/2013/01/25/winter-break-in-seattle/
http://www.teambenny.net/2012/11/27/what-is-the-prognosis/
http://www.teambenny.net/2012/09/21/saving-a-life/
http://www.teambenny.net/2012/06/17/the-journey-began/

 

Beautiful Purim Poem

This poem was sent to us by our friends Meir and Yocheved K. of Passaic. It speaks for itself!

This year instead of a cute & funny poem about our theme
we will try to help a Passaic mother fulfill her dream.

A little boy is in the hospital, a tragedy occurred
a family is broken, with so many tears, their vision is blurred.

Although the future is unclear, there is something we can do
daven & learn with him in mind, & don’t forget Tehillim too.

But one thing more, a special request straight from a mother’s heart
to make a commitment to be better or a new mitzva in his merit, to start.

So on this day of Purim we can help turn sadness into joy
to be mispallel for V’nahpuch Huh, a complete refuah for this boy.

Let us add for them some extra simcha, as Purim is almost done
I am sure they will feel it because k’ish echod b’laiv echad, Klal Yisroel is One!

We wish Refael Yoel Ozer Ben Chaya Malka a quick and complete refuah shelaima!

 

 

48 Ways to Wisdom #7 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

As a merit for a complete recovery for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka – a precious 2 year old fighting for his life after being hit by a reckless driver.

(If you need any of the previous Ways to Wisdom posts, please visit http://www.teambenny.net/48-ways-to-wisdom/)

Way #7: The True Charisma

Way #7: The True Charisma

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg Humility is not an inferiority complex. It’s doing the right thing and not being dependent on the opinion of others.

48 Ways to Wisdom #6 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

As a merit for a complete recovery for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka – a precious 2 year old fighting for his life after being hit by a reckless driver.

(If you need any of the previous Ways to Wisdom posts, please visit http://www.teambenny.net/48-ways-to-wisdom/)

Way #6: Mastering Fear

Way #6: Mastering Fear

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg Roller coasters and horror movies… we pay good money to be scared out of our wits. Harness the energy of “fear” for positive purposes.

48 Ways to Wisdom #4 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

As a merit for a complete recovery for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka – a precious 2 year old fighting for his life after being hit by a reckless driver.

(If you need any of the previous Ways to Wisdom posts, please visit http://www.teambenny.net/48-ways-to-wisdom/)

Way #4: Introduce Yourself to Yourself

Way #4: Introduce Yourself to Yourself

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg Don’t go through life making assumptions about who you are. Take time now before a crisis comes along and forces the issue.

48 Ways to Wisdom #3 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

As a merit for a complete recovery for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka – a precious 2 year old fighting for his life after being hit by a reckless driver.

(If you need any of the previous Ways to Wisdom posts, please visit http://www.teambenny.net/48-ways-to-wisdom/)

Way #3: Say It Out Loud

Way #3: Say It Out Loud

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg Articulate your beliefs out loud, and find out if you really believe what you say.

48 Ways to Wisdom #2 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

As a merit for a complete recovery for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka – a precious 2 year old fighting for his life after being hit by a reckless driver.

(If you need any of the previous Ways to Wisdom posts, please visit http://www.teambenny.net/48-ways-to-wisdom/)

Way #2: Listen Effectively

Way #2: Listen Effectively

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg

When the media hits you with another message, don’t take it for granted. Analyze and question.

The next phase begins…

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, on the first day of the auspicious month of Adar, Benny begins what we hope will be the final phase of his arduous journey to a complete recovery. Over the next 5+ months, Benny will receive 6 cycles of immunotherapy designed to target any remaining cancer cells and eradicate the disease for good. While these treatments come with risks, and are unfortunately known to be quite painful, they are, BE”H without long term side effects.

As we move into this next phase, we ask each of you to redouble your efforts on Benny’s behalf – to ask Hashem to allow Benny to have the strength to endure these treatments, tolerate them well and with the least amount of pain possible. Most importantly, please have in mind in your tefillos that these therapies should be effective and rid Benny of this illness for the rest of his life.

As Faigie and I have mentioned in the past, we can’t thank you enough for all you have done for our family to date. We once again ask for your help in this time of need.

With love,

Ari and Faigie Brecher and family

48 Ways to Wisdom #1 – for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka

Dear Family and Friends –

Many of you have read the posts about our dear friends’ child, Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka who is in a coma after being hit by a reckless driver while coming out of his playgroup. The doctors are waiting for the swelling on his face and head to go down before they can assess the level of brain injury they may be dealing with. As a zechus for his refuah, we are asking people to take on learning the 48 Ways to Wisdom (based on a mishna in Avos) written by Rabbi Noah Weinberg (ZT”L). 48 is the numerical value of MOACH – in hebrew – the brain. May this learning be a zechus for a complete refuah for this precious little boy.

We will send out one of these links each day.

Please, please, please have in mind that it should be a merit for a complete refuah for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka.

 

Way #1: Be Aware of Every Moment

Way #1: Be Aware of Every Moment

To achieve significant results in life, the effort must be constant. Don’t waste a minute.

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg

“Day Zero” – very important day for Benny – Please Daven!!!

Dear Family and Friends –

My apologies for the barrage of emails over the last few days. Today is one of the most important days in Benny’s journey to a Refuah Shelaima Min Hashamayim. The doctors on the Bone Marrow Transplant ward call it “Day Zero”. Today Benny gets his stem cells that were harvested months ago. These stem cells are needed for his body to recover its ability to fight infection after the high dose chemotherapy he received this past week. From here on out, our anticipation builds to when the cells “engraft” and his body can sustain itself.

Benny has learned the art of “anticipation”: Anticipating when he can take his next regular bath, go swimming, sleep uninterrupted, leave his small hospital room, feel ok, play with his brothers and sisters, and many other “small” things that most children his age take for granted. Benny has the great book given to him by his friends Walter and Esthie. The singing book has all sorts of hebrew tefillos that he can play. Last night and this morning, Benny fixated on the song Ani Ma’amin (see the video – Bennys Emunah). The selection couldn’t be more appropriate.

We are asking everyone to take a few minutes sometime between 1130 and 12pm today (PST), to say tehillim for Benny and in the zechus of all of these tefillos we will see Benny recover in record time.

Love,

Ari, Faigie, Benny and the Brecher klan

Benny needs your help

Dear Family and Friends –

After a beautiful and restful Shabbos spent with his Mommy and Daddy in the hospital, Benny had a difficult night. B”H he received all of the chemotherapy he is intended to get (may it be the last chemo of a long long long healthy life – AMEIN!). However, the effects are definitely starting to kick in. Benny has trouble keeping any food in his system and, last night, he developed a fever. We are davening that it should not be an infection, and if it is (Chas V’shalom) that the antibiotics work quickly to counter it before Benny’s counts drop (expected to happen in the next two to three days).

He needs as many tefillos and zechusim as possible to get through the next few weeks.

Please take a moment to say tehillim for him today (pasted below). Also, please take part in one or both of the campaigns being waged on his behalf.

This is something that everyone (even young children) can participate in.
Please take a moment and join in our Asher Yatzar campaign on behalf of Benny’s complete Refuah! This is a great
way to include your kids, and is a tremendous mitzvah. We would like to collect 613 mitzvos a day – (correlating to the 613 body parts & sinews)-during Benny’s hospital stay.The Chofetz Chaim and other Great Sages write that the reciting of Asher Yatzar with
the proper Kavanah (sincerity, devotion, intent) and from the written text, has the power to help one have a healthy body all of their life. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AtGzm7uMMGbkdEo2NFRjY25vTy10ZV92Vllta1Z6Nmc (also available on the top right of www.teambenny.net)
Join with hundreds of others in completing Torah, Neviim, Kesuvim, Mishnayos, and Talmud Bavli by next summer (sometime in late June or
July). In the week since this was launched we are well past half way to this ambitious undertaking on behalf Benny and other Cholim who desperately need our help. Please help us toward the goal of having commitments for all limudim in the next two weeks.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnlkeS54H8I3dEVXQWRrWTBjTi1wX19NUnhLU0cxU0E#gid=0
(also available on the top right of www.teambenny.net)

What you can do to help – Benny’s Siyum HaTorah

Dear Family and Friends –

So, here we are. Tomorrow begins the next challenge that Team Benny must overcome. While Faigie and I both wish we were able to pinch hit for Benny for the actual treatments, that part belongs to him. Our part – well that’s to do what we can to ensure that the Great Healer knows just how important Benny is to all of us.

People throughout the world have asked us countless times in the past 6 months for us to call on them when we need help. We promised we would when we knew what we needed. Well, here goes.

Tomorrow, Benny will be admitted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for what is known as a “stem cell transplant”. It is actually a very high dosage of chemotherapy designed to completely wipe out any remnants of the disease left over from his already extensive treatments. Unfortunately, the body can not automatically recover and begin to produce the white blood cells that fight off disease naturally. Therefore, Benny is given some of his own stem cells to help regenerate his system. This is the most intense treatment of all the treatments he has had and (hopefully) will have.

Benny will be counting on all of us to pull together and back up his doctors and nurses with our “medicine”.

Many of our friends in Passaic/Clifton will recall an effort we undertook years ago to complete “Kol HaTorah” as a community. As a community, we completed Tanach, Mishna and Shas Bavli (Talmud) in one year. Hundreds participated in the learning and the subsequent Siyum (completion) celebration. It created a city-wide sense of Achdus and coincided with a significant reduction in local and worldwide challenges facing the Jewish people (which was what we focused on). While we obviously can’t comprehend Hashem’s calculations and have no true concept of the impact of our actions, we can’t help but feel that we played a small part on the world stage.

It is time again to do something extraordinary. We have come to know some incredible young children fighting cancer since Benny’s battle began. We would like the worldwide Team Benny community to come together on his behalf, and on behalf of these other amazing children, to complete this monumental undertaking between now and the end of June of 2013. This, please G-D, will coincide with the completion of Benny’s expected treatment plan and our expectation of a great Se’udas Hodaah (Thanksgiving Party) and Siyum celebration.

We are asking all of those who can, sometime in the next two weeks, to commit to some section of learning from the attached spreadsheet. The gemara (Talmud) is split into Artscroll volumes – the rest of the sections are self-explanatory. (Benny’s Siyum Signup – when signing up, please include your name, phone number and email address so we can follow up. If you see a section that you would like to learn is taken, please write your name down anyway and learn in their zechus.)

I hope to send out a list of names on approximately a monthly basis to have in mind while learning.

We pray that the zechus (merit) of the additional Torah learning act as a powerful drug to end the suffering of Benny and all other children afflicted with these terrible illnesses.

In the merit of all you have done, and continue to do, for us, may Hashem grant you and your families nothing but good health, blessing and yiddishe nachas.

Sincerely,

Ari, Faigie, Benny and the Brecher klan

While we wait…

We are sitting and waiting for Benny’s doctors to complete what we are sure will be a successful surgery.

We sit here with our tehillims pouring our hearts out to the true healer praying that His messengers accomplish their appointed tasks with His hand guiding theirs.

Yesterday, I was able to spend a few precious moments with a true Tzaddik ben Tzaddik, R’ Aharon Holland from Ramat Beit Shemesh (the son of Rabbi Shlomo Holland SHLITA). He shared an amazing thought that was made even more potent this morning.

What is the power of tefillah (prayer)? If a person has zechusim (merits) he will have a salvation… If one doesn’t, why should prayer help?
R’ Holland shared that the power of tefillah comes from the closeness that it creates between a person and Hashem. As we daven, pour our souls out to Him, we create a closeness and that closeness transcends the merits we may or may not have.

R’ Holland then asked, if that’s the case, why do my prayers for someone else have any impact at all? The fact that I get close to Hashem shouldn’t logically have an impact on someone else…

He explained that the pain of the person who is the “recipient” of the prayer has caused someone to come closer to Hashem and that sizable merit is given to the recipient.

This morning we had a visitor. A mother of 9 (k”eh) who’s young son Yaakov was diagnosed at about the same time as Benny. We have spent time together in the hospital (see Faigie’s post about Yaakov ben Inbal to learn more about the incredible connection between Benny and Yaakov) including an amazing Shabbos kumzitz with Yaakov and his father.

We have been davening for Yaakov and they have been davening for Benny. She dropped everything to come and daven with us this morning in our time of pain. She added the following thought… (While not literal – the concept is amazing…) When someone in the hospital has lot’s of visitors coming and going it creates a perception on the part of the medical staff that the person is loved dearly. This causes the staff to be even more attentive to the needs of that patient.

The same is true with Hashem (not literally, of course). When He sees hundreds of “visitors” praying for an ill person, he notices and feels “compelled” to heal that person.

We want to thank the literally thousands of people who have been davening for Benny. PLEASE keep it up and add Yaakov ben Inbal to your tefillos (if you haven’t already).

With great love.

Ari, Faigie, Benny and Family

Chasdei Hashem!

Dear Family & Friends –

It is with hearts filled with joy and gratitude to Hashem that we report some wonderfully
positive news this Erev Shabbos. Over the past few days, Benny underwent a series of scans designed to see how effective the treatments have been to date, as well as prepare him for his upcoming surgery. This morning, we met with his surgeon who reviewed these scans with us and confirmed the results with his oncologist.

Thank God, the scans showed that the treatments to this point have been very effective. In fact, except for the original site of the tumor, no additional cancer was detectable. This is a major brocha (blessing)!!! It is the best outcome we could hope for to this point. We are certain that it is a direct result of your tefillos (prayers) and maasim tovim (good deeds) on Benny’s behalf.

While there is likely a year left to his treatments, and many chasms to cross, Benny has come through his first four treatment cycles like a champ!

It feels incredible to share this news with all of the members of Team Benny. We ask you to keep him in your prayers and keep doing amazing things in his merit so that all future tests will bring positive news as well.

Thank you all from the depths of our hearts!

Ari, Faigie, Benny and Family

Terrific new Shiur in Benny’s Zechus

Our dear friends Aviva and Bob arranged for Rabbi Aharon Cohen, Rav of Kol Yeshurun in Clifton to give a daily 10 minute shiur in the Sefer Tomer Devorah as a zechus for Benny. The call in information is as follows:

605-475-4099
Access Code: 348907#
To hear the first class press 1#
To hear the second class press 2#
etc. etc.

Today is the third day!

I’ll also post the classes on the teambenny.net/Tomer-Devorah/ as they become available.

Here are the first two:

Tomer Devorah – 1
Tomer Devorah – 2

 

 

Amazing follow up to Faigie’s post…

A few minutes after Faigie sent her most recent post, I received the following from a dear friend from Passaic, NJ – Rabbi G.

I’m not man enough to cry often but your wife’s words hit just the spot. I started saying the kapitlach (psalms) corresponding to your son’s name and the first pasuk (verse) began just where the email left off…bameh yizakeh na’ar es urcho, lishmor kidvarecha! (see below)

May he and you and all cholei yisroel (ill people) receive a refuah shelaimah right away and may we merit to see the two of you serve in the beis hamikdash hashlishi b’mheira vyumeinu!!!!!! (Third Holy Temple Speedily in Our Days) 

For those unfamiliar, Psalm 119 contains in it verses that begin with each of the letters of the hebrew alphabet. It is an age old practice to say the verses associated with each letter of the hebrew name (and that of the person’s mother) of a person who is ill.

Benny’s name starts with a Beis/Bet. The first verse associated with that letter was mentioned above. Here’s the plain meaning of the pasuk (verse) that is first in the prayers for Benny in קיט (Psalm 119);

“How can a youngster purify his path? By observing Your word.”

However, the word ארחו (Urcho) can be used to mean “path” – or it can mean a meal as in “ארוחת הבוקר” (the morning meal – breakfast).

Using this interpretation the verse reads as follows:

“With what can a youngster merit (יזכה) his meal?  To watch that our words are like Your words!” (i.e., to speak in a G-dly manner) – use our words to eliminate strife, increase torah learning, improve our prayers, etc.

As Benny likes to say, “woooow”.

I’ve said enough…

 

Please daven for Benny (July 4th)

Hi All –

Please take a couple of minutes to daven for Benny. He has been running a fever all weekend and due to his chemo has not been able to eat or drink much in the past couple of days. We are back in the hospital and are hoping that his fever does not signify any new infection. He should be getting intravenous hydration soon.

Please daven that all of the doctors’ and nurses’ efforts should be successful in getting him through this latest challenge.

Love,

Ari & Faigie (and Benny)

Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah

{קל} (א) שיר המעלות, ממעמקים קראתיך ה’: (ב) אדני שמעה בקולי, תהיינה אזניך קשבות לקול תחנוני: (ג) אם עונת תשמר יה, אדני מי יעמד: (ד) כי עמך הסליחה, למען תורא: (ה) קויתי ה’ קותה נפשי, ולדברו הוחלתי: (ו) נפשי לאדני, משמרים לבקר שמרים לבקר: (ז) יחל ישראל אל ה’, כי עם ה’ החסד, והרבה עמו פדות: (ח) והוא יפדה את ישראל, מכל עונותיו:

{קכא} (א) שיר למעלות, אשא עיני אל ההרים, מאין יבא עזרי: (ב) עזרי מעם ה’, עשה שמים וארץ: (ג) אל יתן למוט רגלך, אל ינום שמרך: (ד) הנה לא ינום ולא יישן, שומר ישראל: (ה) ה’ שמרך, ה’ צלך על יד ימינך: (ו) יומם השמש לא יככה, וירח בלילה: (ז) ה’ ישמרך מכל רע, ישמר את נפשך: (ח) ה’ ישמר צאתך ובואך, מעתה ועד עולם:

{קמב} (א) משכיל לדוד, בהיותו במערה תפלה: (ב) קולי אל ה’ אזעק, קולי אל ה’ אתחנן: (ג) אשפך לפניו שיחי, צרתי לפניו אגיד: (ד) בהתעטף עלי רוחי ואתה ידעת נתיבתי, בארח זו אהלך טמנו פח לי: (ה) הביט ימין וראה ואין לי מכיר, אבד מנוס ממני אין דורש לנפשי: (ו) זעקתי אליך ה’, אמרתי אתה מחסי חלקי בארץ החיים: (ז) הקשיבה אל רנתי, כי דלותי מאד הצילני מרדפי כי אמצו ממני: (ח) הוציאה ממסגר נפשי להודות את שמך, בי יכתירו צדיקים כי תגמל עלי:

Thank you!

B”H Benny has come through another week, and his fourth cycle of chemo, with flying colors – due in no small part to your participation. Many of you have gone out of your way to contribute – physically and spiritually – in helping Benny down his road to a complete recovery. While there are many challenges to overcome in the road ahead we choose, at the advice of many wise people, to look back at the hurdles we’ve already cleared with room to spare.

It is often difficult to be as thankful as we should for each success that Hashem grants Benny (or any of us) along the way. This morning I was able to understand a concept we’ve all heard throughout our lives and maybe it will allow our family to tap into the necessary thankfulness. We have all been taught that all that happens in this world is a metaphor for our relationship with Hashem. In looking at the tens of thousands of moments of chesed (kindness) that have been given on Benny’s behalf and how much we’d like to talk to each person and say “Thank you! Thank you for everything you continue to do for Benny, for our entire family”. And then, we get the opportunity to say it to some of you. Only, interestingly enough, the words feel so inadequate. Almost hollow. So we repeat them… Doesn’t seem to change the feeling, though…

Well, if life is a metaphor, then this feeling of inadequacy is something we should certainly feel in our relationship with Hashem when He showers billions of blessings, large and small, on us daily. When we make brachos (blessings), or daven (pray), shouldn’t it feel so tiny by comparison?

So, I thought, what’s the greatest “thank you”? When someone gives you a set of dishes, invite them for a fabulous meal served on them. That’s the greatest “thank you”. Show that you are using their gift wisely, and enjoying it. If someone spends an hour playing with Benny in the hospital, take the respite they have given you and share the “Ahhh” feeling of being refreshed. That’s a “thank you”!

If fact, if our words to Him feel as small as they do when we thank our family and friends, I think we need to use Hashem’s greatest gift to thank Him. We need to choose to live every precious minute of our entire lives as a constant “Thank You” message to Hashem. Do good things, learn, daven (pray), act with kindness to one another. That’s a real “Thank You”!

So, Thank You all! Thank you to Benny’s doctors and nurses who show us such amazing care. Thank you to each of our family and friends. I know that every thought, word and deed on Benny’s behalf are the reason he is doing as well as he is. May Hashem grant each and every one of you, and your families, lives filled with reasons to be thankful!

A special thank you to Rachael and Jonathan for the beautiful Tehillim list. For all of you who have graciously asked for additional things you can do, please see the post below and sign up.

With all our love,

Ari & Faigie

(Please daven for Yaakov ben Inbal.)

The true definition of optimism…

Tonight we received a visit from a dear friend, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg. Rabbi Goldberg is the founder of an amazing organization called Kids Kicking Cancer, which teaches children facing tremendous adversity to use the mental aspects of martial arts to power through their challenges.

I had the honor of meeting Rabbi Goldberg (who was the head of Camp Simcha for more than 10 years) more than 10 years ago when we had no expectation of ever gaining a first hand understanding of what he does. (As I mentioned to Rabbi Goldberg, I view this as one of the many kindnesses Hashem has shown us over the years in preparing us for our current challenge.)

Among the amazing things we learned from Rabbi Goldberg tonight was a most incredible outlook on one of the most often used, and misused, terms.

OPTIMISM

Optimistic people often get a bad rap. We look at their smiley shiny faces and view them as most unrealistic. Either life hasn’t hit them yet, or it hasn’t hit them hard enough… or… they are just a bit off.

When dealing with truly trying situations – and I don’t mean situations that may or may not become trying in the future – I mean situations that are, in the here and now, DIFFICULT – having a positive attitude seems like nothing more than self-delusion.

How then can we be “shiny happy people” – even as things actively crumble around us?

So here’s the definition of optimism shared by Rabbi Goldberg:

“Optimism doesn’t mean that you believe everything will be great. Optimism is the belief that, come what may, you will respond with greatness!”

Wow. Back to this in a bit.

Over the past few weeks, I haven’t written much. My incredible wife has kept all of you informed of the amazing things being done on Benny’s behalf as well as our journey down his path to recovery. As I am sure you can all imagine, this is not due to lack of interest. Those of you who know me well know that in the flesh I am far more reserved than my writing would imply. The same thoughts that I can easily put to paper would be very difficult for me to share in person. I view this mechanism for sharing our (but to some degree my personal) fears, struggles, prayers, hopes dreams and successes large and small, to be the truest, most honest form of communication I have with you at this point in my life.

Many of you have asked me some of the questions that I have addressed in writing, “How are you?” “How’s Benny?” “What’s new?” “Any more of a sense of where things are at?”, etc. to which you have gotten a “Boruch Hashem Yom Yom” (loosely translated for intent “God Bless… One day at a time”) or similar response.

That type of response won’t qualify for this medium. Here is where I get to tell you what I am really thinking.

Over the past weeks, I couldn’t do that with any remotely positive inflection. I couldn’t project “optimism”, based on my erroneous definition, into my thoughts. So I simply couldn’t share the level of fear I faced on a daily basis. This fear related to Benny and to so many other challenging aspects of my life.

In the past week, we have been zocheh to speak with three very special tzaddikim. Rabbi Efraim Wachsman (through the generosity of our dear friends the Stern’s), Rabbi Boruch Yehudah Gradon, and Rabbi Goldberg.

They each spent significant time with both Faigie and I. In each of those conversations, the primary topic was properly defining Emunah (Faith) and Bitachon (commonly termed “trust”). Rabbi Wachsman focused our attention on our (humankind in general – and us in particular) inability to discern, predict, plan for, and in many cases influence, outcomes. We are simply charged with working through things with the tools and context we are handed. We spent time talking about the two primary aspects of true faith:

  1. Everything – and I do mean everything – is directed by Hashem
  2. Everything – and I do mean everything – and this one was way harder for me to relate to – IS good. Not “will be” but “is”.

So, while the outcomes are completely and utterly out of our control – we are simply in the realm of action. At the same time, we need to tap into the mindset that past, present and future are all – cosmically – good.

Rabbi Gradon shared a thought with us – among many cogent and practical ideas for coping – that Faigie and I both found fascinating. While we think we can measure the specific value of each action as it relates to the outcome, even that is beyond our ability. There are many stories brought down by our sages, of the epic reward given to someone for a seemingly inconspicuous act – such as taking a few steps or pointing across the street in advance of a Mitzvah.

Many of the amazing works that the people featured in the story had accomplished in their life dwarfed the act that is recorded as the cause for the great – seemingly oversized – reward. Rabbi Gradon said, you never know whether that particular person’s livelihood is as a result of the $100,000 they gave to an organization or the $100 they gave to a poor person who cries out their thanks to Hashem and prays for their continued success.

After all is said and done, however, how does one keep their head high – not just above water. How do we become “shiny, happy people” in the face of adversity? While we know – and intellectually believe – everything is from Hashem, everything is good, we can’t plan for or possibly even impact, outcomes, and we don’t even know which of our actions has the greatest impact – how do we manage to feel remotely positive about a situation which – with all of our human instincts – feels bad?

The key lies in the message of Rabbi Goldberg. In truth, Rabbi Wachsman and Rabbi Gradon were sharing the same thought but it only hit home in the simplicity of Rabbi Goldberg’s message.

“Optimism doesn’t mean that you believe everything will be great. Optimism is the belief that, come what may, you will respond with greatness!”

The faith we need to have is not that things are cosmically good – although we need to know this.

It is not that we will say that 1,000,000th perek of tehillim and miracles will happen.

It is that, within each of us is the power required to respond with greatness to our unique challenges. As Rabbi Wachsman and Rabbi Gradon said, we are in the world of action. Our only element of “control” is how we act in response to challenges in their context. If we truly believe, then we will recognize that – despite the incredible difficulty of a particular situation – one that we may not be able to change at all – we can act with greatness and that acting with greatness is all that is expected of us.

Again, to be clear, we are not EXPECTED to have an impact. We are expected to act with our version of greatness. If we do that, we don’t have to calculate the level of impact, we don’t have to be concerned with the outcome (which is beyond our control), we don’t have to understand the cosmic good in things.

From day one, until our last breath, we need to constantly ask ourselves, am I being “great” in response to this challenge and situation.

It goes without saying that if that’s our only responsibility, when we don’t know what “great” dictates, we better find out. But if we know, and can answer yes, we have done everything required.

We can be “shiny, happy people”.

Echoing Faigie’s thoughts fromi a few posts ago, I want to thank all of those people who have been acting with greatness for these months. Family, friends, Rabbonim (Rabbis), organizations, our doctors and nurses, even strangers – have all been incredible.

As mentioned above, one truly doesn’t know which of the actions has the greatest impact on the outcome. Whether it is a daily text message without fail, showing our other children the good times they might not be getting from us, taking Benny for a walk, helping keep him occupied in the hospital, the incredible arrangements on the part of Rabbi Ten and his crew, the amazing works of Chai Lifeline, Ladies Bikur Cholim, and other organizations in town, the assistance of a family member with paperwork, the understanding of a teacher, the incredible care, expertise and understanding from every one of Benny’s doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, the by-now hundreds of thousands of zechusim (merits) gathered for Benny’s recovery, the thousands of other “little” kindnesses – each one which could be the source of Benny’s refuah (healing) – are each appreciated at the deepest level.

I imagine that in shamayim (heaven) when one asks why each of you (after 120 years, of course) is sitting in such a lofty and elevated place among the “all time greats”, they will respond, “Don’t you know the story? One Shabbos she answered Amen to a brocha (blessing) on Benny’s behalf and in that merit caused his refuah and was given that special spot next to the kisei hakavod (throne of glory)”?

Thank you all for everything large and small!

One and done!!! (B”H)

Just a quick update. More to follow later. We just wanted to thank all of you. B”H, Benny’s stem cell harvest was a great success and they were able to obtain all the stem cells necessary in one action-packed day.

Thank you all for your help. We couldn’t have done it without you!!!

UCLA event…

I received the following message tonight (please read my note below):

“Dear Ari,

This evening I dedicated an event I had for university students for a רפואה שלימה for your son. Rabbi Akiva Tatz spoke at UCLA and we had well over 100 students present. The students were mostly beginners, far removed from Yiddishkeit and they came away truly inspired by Rabbi Tatz and moved by the dedication to your son. May your son continue to get better and be a source of inspiration to כלל ישראל and נחת for you and your wife עמו”ש.

Be well,
Dovy and Mimi…”

Dear Dovy and Mimi (and all of our friends new and old) –

We are humbled – and I do mean humbled – by the message you shared with us. To dedicate an incredible act of kiruv rechokim involving a true godol in that field to Benny’s Refuah brings forward, once again, a feeling we are arriving at on a daily basis.

Faigie and I are simple people. We try and do our best in all aspects of life but, at the end of the day, we are not worthy of the outpouring of generosity bestowed by so many throughout the world.

This thought, believe it or not, it quite heartening. One of the great fears one can have when a child is ill is that they will need to rely on the merits of their parents to make it through. Too scary to consider…

When we see the outpouring from so many on behalf of Binyomin Chaim, we are constantly reminded that his pure little, yet fabulously great, Neshama, must deserve every one of these zechusim.

So, with great humility, thank you, thank you, thank you. And may Hashem bless you in your incredible avodas hakodesh.

Sincerely,

Ari and Faigie

Keeping the emotions in… check

Over the past few days of (Baruch Hashem) relative calm Faigie and I have had a growing sense of unease.

Just two weeks ago, at the drop of a hat (or the smile of delicious Benny), hot tears of prayers would flow down our cheeks at any point of the day or night.

Now, with the relative calm of the “off weeks of treatment”, those teary outburtst are fewer and further apart. This is not comforting… In fact, it is frightening.

What if we only started to see the beginning of Benny’s Refuah because of the tears of anguish? Will Hashem continue to listen to us without that minute by minute terror?

We were talking about this last night over a motzei shabbos slice of pizza when the following thought struck.

Dovid hamelech left us the legacy of tehillim which contain so many beautiful tefillos that are being said daily on Benny’s behalf. Within those beautiful chapters, however, we find some conflicting messages that we need to reconcile in our daily interactions with Hashem.

How can we live with עבדו את השם בשמחה (serve Hashem with joy) and at the same time live מן המצר קראתי קה (from the narrow straits I call out…) or ממעמקים קראתיך השם (from the depths I cry out to you Hashem)?

I think the explanation might be in the words that seem to accompany many of the more “pained” statements in tehillim. קראתי, קראתיך, I call or cry out to you… Hashem. When it is the time for prayers (which admittedly might be ten times a day now – versus the halachically prescribed three times) we need to summon the feeling of being trapped, the emotion of terror that causes us to weep and scream silently (or not so silently) – “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let it all work, Hashem, the only real Rofeh who doles out the only real therapies! Please let us do the right things by all of our precious children!” It’s not simply that we call out when we are in dire straits- we have to feel the dire straits whenever we call out!

We are required, even through the scariest periods of our life, to serve Hashem with joy. At the same time, when those moments of prayer arrive as scheduled or are foisted on us by events – we are required call out from the depths of our souls.

This week, Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah begins his second round of chemotherapy after a surgery on Monday morning.

Please continue to find it in your hearts’ to daven “from the depths” for his Refuah Shelaimah Min Hashamayim and may your tefillos and maasim tovim (good deeds) for Benny serve to protect you and your loved ones until the coming of Mashiach במהרה בימינו אמן.

With love,

Ari and Faigie

From Auntie Shira – Amazing Hashgacha

For Friends of Faigie & Ari:
For the past 6 1/2 years I have had a Rosh Chodesh gathering at one of the local Coffee Bean’s almost every month.
On Monday, April 23, 2012 we dedicated the Rosh Chodesh Tehilim Group in honor of the Refuah for Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah.
Prior to setting up for the party, I saw a man sitting for breakfast with his children. Not knowing who he was I asked him to daven for my nephew and make sure to write Benny’s name down. This man told me his name, and said that he will daven everyday for Binyomin Chaim. Last week, this man’s son who is the same age as Benny was also diagnosed with a machla. This man brought his son to the same hospital that Benny was at. As Benny was being discharged this family was brought in. Ari and this man met for the first time not knowing that Benny was the child he was davening for. To this day I am not sure if he knows yet. This other boy is also going to have treatment, but with Hashem’s help he too will be OK. The lesson from this, is that when you pray for others, your prayers are answered.
The gathering for Rosh Chodesh Iyar was the largest one to date. Over 50 women came to daven for Benny. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Everyone was very moved and kindly offered anything they could do to help.
When I went inside to pay, I met a lady in line. I never saw her before, so I asked her if she was from out of town. I asked her too, to daven for Benny. I gave her Benny’s Hebrew name. She said that she just received an email from a friend in Chicago about an hour ago telling her to daven for a baby. She looked at the email on her phone and sure enough the name on her phone was Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah.
I see all of the beautiful miracles that are occuring.
With the continued chesed and kindness, may Hashem bless Benny and all of the people who need a refuah THE ULTIMATE REFUAH.

Am I doing all I can???

Boruch Hashem we are lucky to have family and friends who are incredible resources in good times and not such great times. We have been stunned by the sheer volume of incredible meritorious activities undertaken by all of you on Benny’s behalf…

However, here’s the rub… I have never felt more useless…

I feel the need to make the grandest gesture of my life. Something that will show Hashem how powerfully and desperately I am crying out for Benny’s Refuah Shelaima Min Hashamayim.

I desparately want to say:

I’ll write a thousand seforim… Finish shas 50 times… Give 10 million dollars in tzedakka… Daven 24/7…

Instead, I barely have time to think… To daven with a minyan… To keep giving the appropriate level of tzedakka and not worry about financial considerations… To keep my seder with my chavrusa… To attend the shiurim I used to…

When receiving Brachos from gedolim (great Rabbis) over the last few weeks I asked, “What should we be doing?”

One Godol, himself unwell – looked at me like I was crazy. His expression  said “You really think this is all about you?” He said, “I have a theory… and don’t quote me on it… that this disease is today’s holocaust.” In essence, as with the holocaust, there’s no asking “why” or “what should I do about saving millions”. You just do what is expected of you “Yom Yom” (day by day).

Yesterday, we were Zocheh to receive a Brocha for Benny from R’ Aaron Schechter, SHLITA, Rosh HaYeshiva of Chaim Berlin. I asked the same question… “What should we do?”.  The Rosh HaYeshiva asked me rhetorically… “Do you daven?… Do you learn?… Do you give tzedakka?… Do you do Mitzvos and chessed?… Do you raise your children in the Derech Hashem?… That’s all Hashem wants from you right now…”

Well, each of you has made that idea much harder to stomach. Not that I am asking you to stop taking things on… quite the contrary… make the grand gestures that our situation robs us of.

However, I ask Hashem to allow our Kin’as Sofrim (our “good” jealousy) of all the amazing things being done on Benny’s behalf to be seen as if we have joined each of you in your chessed, tefillah, learning, kabbolas and shemiras hamitzvos (accepting and strengthening of Torah observance).

With appreciation, thankfulness and deep admiration for your kindness to our precious Benny.

Ari Brecher

1am Update

Benny just woke up. It’s 1 am. It’s dark I can only feel Benny and smell his sweet scent as he lay next to me in bed. I feel Benny’s hair all over my pillows and bed as it begins to fall out. With every turn more sheds. As I caress his head I can only feel the absence of his luscious golden delicious locks. I am scared what the morning light will bring. However, I do know that with every hair that Hashem removes it is a sign that the Refuah is taking effect IH . It is the beginning of Benny’s new and healthy growth system.

It is comforting to me as well that Hashem has chosen for his hair to fall out the week of Lag Baomer.

This is the only time of year that we celebrate the cutting of a child’s hair.

The only difference for Binyomin Chaim is that his parents or grandparents did not snip his first locks, his ultimate Father, Hashem did!

In that zechus May the Almighty bring Binyomin Chaim Ben Faigie Sarah’s refuah shlema Bkorov.

Please continue to daven and do what ever else you are doing towards Benny’s refuah shlema.

All my Love,

Faigie Brecher

 

 

Binyomin Chaim Erev Shabbos update

Dear Friends and Family,

Ari, Benny, and I are BH home for Shabbos. Benny did well during his first chemo round. He did need a blood transfusion on Thursday, but BH responded well.

Benny loves being home with his siblings. IH we hope his blood counts will continue to climb and he will have strength to get thru his next round of chemo the following week .

We are so thankful to each and everyone of you who continue to support team Benny with all your Tefillos, Amens, Chasodim, zmiros , Asher Yozats, shmiros halashon, shmiros Eynayim and everything else.

Wishing you all a Wonderful Shabbos !

Warm Regards,

Faigie and Ari Brecher

Benny Update 4/29

Dear Family & Friends –

We wanted to take a quick moment to thank each and every one of you for your heartfelt thoughts and tefillos (prayers) over the past couple of weeks. That these weeks have been trying goes without saying. However, things have come a long way in a short time. While Benny’s diagnosis is not a pleasant one, his doctors’, the best in the world for his particular type of illness, are very hopeful for a full recovery with Hashem’s help. He has come through his first chemotherapy cycle very well. We have a long road ahead of us and we are certainly going to continue to rely on each of our wonderful family members and friends as we travel this path to a full recovery – and we thank you in advance for your continued support and help.

Right now, the most important thing to us is that we continue to storm the Shaarei Shamayim (Gates of Heaven) with tefillos, ameins, and acts of kindness. Please keep telling us about inspirational things you are doing on Benny’s behalf as they give us the strength to persevere when things seem most challenging.

Each and every one of you is a critical member of “Team Benny” and plays a pivotal role in his recovery.

Please continue to pray for Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah with all of your hearts.

We are going to be setting up a website to keep everyone informed of Benny’s progress and will let you know when that is available. In the meantime, I have attached a document with the remarks I shared at Benny’s bris about his namesake, Zaida Ben Genauer (may his merit protect us). With his help in heaven, our efforts here are sure to be successful.

With great love and appreciation,

Ari and Faigie Brecher (and Benny)

 

Benny’s Namesake

Benny at CHLA Music Therapy

Today is the birthday of “Benny’s ” name sake Zaida Ben.  He would be have been 99.

We celebrated last night during a private music therapy session the hospital provided.  The class was open to all patients and families, however, no one other than my family attended. Another act of Hashem’s kindness.

It was the most special 1/2 hour we had as a family all week.

Benny was singing, dancing and Having a ball.

We played a game and one question was to share what inspires you.

My daughters answer ” Benny “.

 

Benny loves singing zmiros at the Shabbos table as did my Zaida Ben, ESP Kol Mkadeish Shvei and K Ribono Olem Please have him in mind in your zmiros This Shabbos

 

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos!

 

Day 2 of Chemo

While I should be sleeping to get my strength for tomorrow, I feel compelled to write and let you all know we appreciate your tefillos and extraordinary acts of chessed for “Benny’s” Refuah.

“Benny” as he is known by many here has completed his second stop on his road to recovery.  There are three more   Chemos In this first round.

He BH has already begun signs of refuah  just by being able to eat.  Whereas, the past several weeks he had little desire.  The doctors say with this unique illness the child doesn’t want to eat.  Every morsel of food he ate yesterday is attributed to your tefillos .

On behalf of my entire family thank you and Good Shabbos!

 

Faigie

First stop…

Dear Dr. ….,

Good morning. Thank G-D we completed our first stop on “the road to recovery “. We pretty much slept well   Benny even slept thru the 5 am vitals and Zofran.

On behalf of myself and large extended family, which is now your family, whether you like it or not, we thank you for taking such amazing care of our precious baby Benny.

May G-D always guide you in the healing process for a full recovery In all your patients .

You are an amazing Dr and human being!
Faigie Brecher

 

Need tefillos now!

 

Crucial time for all our tefillos this morning

The biopsy will take place at 9:30 (pacific time -12:30 NY) about an hour procedure.
We are praying for the best possible outcome.

We have also asked those to please have extra Kavana when reciting the Bracha of Asher Yatzar and at least once a day have someone answer amen in the Zchos that Binyomin Chaim “Benny” will have a complete refuah shlema.

I have read so many stories how powerful this tefilla is in getting rid of illnesses in our bodies.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and IH hope to share good news soon.
Faigie and Ari Brecher