Clarity in a world of Confusion
It was another one of those blustery winter evenings. The biting Jerusalem wind, you know the one that really pierces your breath and cuts through to your bones was acting its mighty best. Few people were seen strolling the streets, braving the cold.
I walked down the tiled path, reached the bronze gate and swung it open fighting the wind that slapped into my face. As I pushed the double glazed door open I sucked my breath in. It was surreal. The metamorphosis was complete.
About seventy women and girls were glued to a screen in electrifying silence. The heat was tangible. The energy in the room was reaching emotional heights I had never before experienced. As I stood there stunned, listening to a resounding “HINEINI” - I am ready HaShem to serve you with Love; I felt myself turn into jelly. This is her, this is the woman, my friend who refuses to give in, refuses to give up, refuses to stop. This is it, the epitome of greatness that a human being can reach; it is the level that is almost angelic, that which defies human nature.
Mrs Tammy Karmel, a young vibrant mother of seven, 45 years old with a baby of 17 months , was diagnosed five years ago with one of the world’s most brutal illnesses that mankind has ever known. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known as ALS or Louis Gehrig’s is a degenerative muscle disease, where neurons in the brain that send messages to the muscles, start dying. As the disease progresses, more and more muscles fall to the side leaving the person immobile, unable to eat, speak and breathe. In order to keep the person alive, they have to be artificially ventilated by tracheostomy and have a PEG inserted for their nutrition. Twenty four hour a day, around the clock care is necessary since the person is totally and utterly helpless unable even to call out for their needs. They cannot cry, groan or ring a bell to tell you that they are in distress. They cannot twitch their noses nor move their fingers to tell you that something is bothering them. People with ALS are completely helpless and vulnerable. They have to rely on the people around them to see and notice what they need. There has to be somebody with them at all times without taking their eyes off for even a short while.
For some time, Tammy was eye tracking - communicating on the computer with her eyes. She would look at the screen, focus on the letters she wanted and would write up messages, letters and just short instructions about what she needed or wanted. The computer could also be made to “speak” and so she could get across what it was she required. Unfortunately though, for almost two years now her only form of communication is through charting. This is done by holding up a clear plastic sheet that has the letters of the alphabet on it. Somebody stands behind the chart with the letters facing her, the person then picks up on the letters she is looking at and so puts together, letter by letter what she is trying to say. Yes, it is a painstaking form of communication which is tedious and time consuming, but Tammy plods on, not giving up. She forwards us heavenly messages of Emunah and Bitachon, of hope and a will to live. She battles with a disease so cruel yet comes up with her head held high as she over and over again repeats “HINEINI “ – HaShem I am here to do Your will with love, in every situation , under all circumstances, in the worst conditions possible.
When Tammy, popular chinuch teacher, speaker and advisor, was diagnosed five years ago with ALS, a tremendous effort was made to film her shiurim and save them for Klal Yisroel. Thus there are tens of shiurim on chinuch, sholom bayis, emunah, relationships, Yomim tovim and more that are being shown worldwide. From Jerusalem to Los Angeles, from Monsey to Melbourne, Australia. From South Africa to South America, anyone who hears Tammy’s shiurim once, is hooked and asks for more. She speaks to every one of us at our own level, taking into consideration our daily struggles, addressing our weaknesses as well as our strengths. She gives a message of hope and of courage; she presents life in all its diversity. She looks us in the eye and believes we can all do it. And now after her lessons are resonating the world over, she gives us a glimpse into her inner world. Ladies and girls in Jerusalem are privileged to get, in addition to the weekly shiur, a weekly profound message, usually based on the weekly Parsha but containing a lesson relevant to us today. She “charts” these messages for hours until all is clear and understood. She gives us clarity in a world of confusion and expresses herself with rich meaningful insights that make you wonder.
The most unbelievable part of it all is her ability to relay these ideas with humour and wit, making us think that surely we are mistaken as to the source of these words. She expresses her journey in this world as being “exhilarating” and she makes you wonder and marvel, that perhaps she’s forgotten the meaning of this word? But no, she knows what she’s saying and means what she says.
Her regal, magnificent presence attracts people again and again, week after week. Seminary girls coming for their year in Jerusalem flood her place often more than once a week. Women of all ages from all sectors are pulled by a magnetic pull and come back each week never missing a shiur. Her messages talk to young and old alike giving chizuk that helps people pull through the week. At the end of the weekly shiur and after Tammy’s messages of insight have energised the room with pure Torah based hashkafa, whilst people’s hearts are charged with emotion and they can contain their feelings no longer, a kumsitz follows accompanied by music, connecting all participants to HaShem through this very special shaliach. Yes, it’s super-human, it defies nature, yet it’s here, beating a rhythm of Emunah and Bitachon, bringing the Geula closer.
To find out more about Tammy’s messages or to receive them click here.
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