Many of our dear readers have heard the profoundly difficult, profoundly moving story of Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz and family, who were dedicated Chabad shluchim in Temecula, CA, when Yitzi started experiencing slurred speech and other symptoms some five years ago. Eventually he received the devastating diagnosis of Bulbar Onset ALS, the most aggressive form of this neuromuscular disease.
Fast forward five years. The family has moved to an apartment in L.A. next to the Chabad Yeshiva. Yitzi is completely paralyzed except for the movement of his expressive soulful eyes and mega-watt smile. Yet under these most trying circumstances, he teaches Torah to an avid readership of thousands worldwide.
Determined to find light and meaning in this challenging nisyaon, Yitzi’s incredible spirit and iron-clad determination, combined with Tobii gaze-activated keyboard technology, enable him to produce a weekly Torah essay that is widely disseminated. The arduous labor involved is mind-boggling. Yitzi has to highlight one letter at a time with his focused gaze and carefully spell out each word, phrase, punctuation mark. Dina, Yitzi’s incredible wife, says he is drenched in sweat and utterly exhausted when finished. One essay can take up to 15 hours of laborious work to complete.
Writer’s note: As I sit here blithely typing away, the words quickly filling up the page, I realize how easy this is and now nonchalantly I take this and so many other daily tasks for granted..
The beauty of the messages, written in everyday accessible language that belies the many comprehensive sources that are quoted and carefully integrated, is magnified thousand-fold when the reader thinks about the special author and the superhuman efforts Yitzi invests to communicate and inspire.
And Yitzi offers more than Parsha insights. One of his most beloved and shared series is practical and doable marriage advice. One example of Rabbi Yitzi’s pearls::
“Even more than all this, is her inner beauty and her inner strengths, her brain and her heart. As you get to know her, and you see how incredible she is on the inside, make sure you complement her inner self. If you only notice her outside, your feelings for her will begin to seem shallow, and her respect for you will begin to wane.”
His Divrei Torah are both spiritual and down to earth:
“So the blessing in Bechukosai is greater, because our effort is greater.
We need to strive for the greater blessing, it is not enough for us to get by with what comes natural to us. Hashem expects more from us, to go beyond our nature, to toil in Torah and mitzvahs, to go the extra mile.”
Yitzi’s impact is huge. Following are a mere two of literally thousands of notes and accolades from grateful friends and readers, who come from every walk of life:
“He is a man who impacts everyone he meets just by twinkling his eyes.”
“Even with ALS, bedridden as you are, you still glow and fill the room and all you reach with spirituality.”
And now– we can pay back this valiant soldier, just a little.
In the words of a dear friend, “You have to see the eyes of Rabbi Yitzi glow when the Dvar Torah he wrote that week is read in the Shabbos minyan in his room. Rabbi Yitzi puts his life into these articles, which now Baruch Hashem are read by many the world over..”
“Yitzi’s life is his family. I mentioned the idea of having weekly sponsors for his article- and Yitzi expressed support and appreciation for this effort. The funds would give Yitzi a way to, in addition to inspiring so many people, help generate income for his family.”
A campaign is underway to sponsor Yitzi’s articles. You may dedicate one in honor or memory of a loved one. All funds will go directly to the Hurwitz family to help pay for Yitzi’s round the clock nursing and other manifold expenses. All donations are tax-deductible.