GOOD MORNING! Have you ever felt the pain of being with a friend or relative who has had a stroke and not known what do to or say? Did you ever wish there was someone who could guide you to help and not to hurt? Larry Button had a stroke. He wrote the following guidelines. I found them so meaningful and helpful that I share them with you. The Torah teaches that we are all created in the image of the Almighty and that we all have intrinsic worth -- even if our capacities and abilities have been limited.


How to Help Someone Who Has Had a Stroke

  1. I am not stupid. I am wounded. Please respect me.
  2. Come close, speak slowly, enunciate clearly.
  3. Repeat yourself. Assume I know nothing and start from the beginning, over and over.
  4. Be as patient with me the twentieth time you teach me something as you were the first.
  5. Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time.
  6. Be aware of what your body language and facial expressions are communicating to me.
  7. Make eye contact with me. I am in here - come find me.
  8. Please don't raise your voice. I am not deaf, I am wounded.
  9. Touch me appropriately. Connect with me.
  10. Honor the healing power of sleep.
  11. Protect my energy. No talk radio, TV, or nervous visitors! Keep visitations brief {5 minutes}.
  12. Stimulate my brain when I have the energy to learn something new. But know that a small amount will wear me out quickly.
  13. Use age-appropriate {toddler} educational toys and books to teach me.
  14. Introduce me to things kinesthetically. Let me feel everything, as if I were an infant again.
  15. Teach me with monkey-see, monkey-do behavior.
  16. Trust that I am trying - just not with your skill level or on your schedule.
  17. Ask me multiple choice questions. Avoid yes/no questions.
  18. Ask me questions with specific answers. Allow me time to hunt for an answer.
  19. Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can think.
  20. Handle me gently, as you would a newborn.
  21. Speak to me directly, not about me, to others.
  22. Cheer me on! Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes 20 years.
  23. Trust that my brain can always continue to learn.
  24. Break all actions down into smaller steps of action.
  25. Look for what obstacles prevent me from succeeding on a task.
  26. Clarify for me what the next level or step is so that I know what I am working for.
  27. Remember that I have to be proficient at one level of function to move on to the next level.
  28. Celebrate all of my little successes! They inspire me.
  29. Please don't finish my sentences or fill in words I cannot find. I need to work my brain.
  30. If I can't find a memory, help me to create a new one.
  31. Know that I may want you to think I understand more than I really do.
  32. Focus on what I can do rather than bemoan what I cannot.
  33. Introduce me to my old life. Don't assume that because I cannot play like I used to doesn't mean that I won't continue to enjoy music.
  34. Remember that in the absence of some functions, I have gained other abilities.
  35. Keep me familiar with my family, friends, and loving support. Build a wall of cards and photos that are labeled so that I can review them.
  36. Call in the troops! Create a healing team for me. Send word out to everyone so they can send me love. Keep them abreast of my condition and ask them to do specific things for me - like pray/visualize me being able to swallow with ease, or rocking my body into a sitting position.
  37. Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress.
  38. Show me old video footage of me doing things to remind me of how I spoke, walked, and gestured.
  39. Remember that my medications probably make me feel tired, as well as mask my ability to know what it feels like to be me.
  40. Love me for who I am today. Don't hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now.


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Torah Portion of the Week

The parasha, Torah portion, opens with Jacob on his deathbed 17 years after arriving in Egypt. Jacob blesses Joseph's two sons, Manasseh (Menashe) and Ephraim (to this day it is a tradition to bless our sons every Shabbat evening with the blessing, "May the Almighty make you like Ephraim and Manasseh" -- they grew up in the Diaspora amongst foreign influences and still remained devoted to the Torah. The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is "to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.") He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary.

A large retinue from Pharaoh's court accompanies the family to Hebron to bury Jacob in the Ma'arat Hamachpela, the burial cave purchased by Abraham. The Torah portion ends with the death of Joseph and his binding the Israelites to bring his remains with them for burial when they are redeemed from slavery and go to the land of Israel. Thus ends the book of Genesis!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states in the blessing of Yehuda and his descendants, that:

"His eyes shall be red with wine; and the teeth white with milk" (Genesis 49:12).

What does this mean?

Rashi tells us that it is a blessing for fertility of the vineyards to produce an abundance of wine and a blessing that the sheep grazing on the land will produce an abundance of milk.

The Talmud (Kesubos, 111b) states that the verse "his teeth white with milk" can be read (in the Hebrew) as "When one shows his teeth (in a smile) to his fellow man, it is better than giving him milk to drink." How highly we would consider a person who gave drinks of milk to passersby everyday. What a benefactor of mankind!

Rabbi Avigdor Miller comments in Sing, You Righteous, that a drink of milk provides essential nourishment and becomes part of all that the recipient does thereafter. yet this person does less than one who smiles at his fellow man. The smile enters the recipient's mind and body, and stimulates all the glands to produce their secretions in the most beneficial proportions. Every one of the thousands of intricate processes of physical function is optimally motivated.


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