There are certain books you know are made to be bestsellers: anything with dramatic ups and downs, an emotional roller coaster, an incredible chain of events, and a surprising ending. Having just finished a year serving as a Hospital Chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital, however, I have become aware that the most powerful stories are not between the covers of a book at all but are held within the human heart.
The Torah, in introducing the development of mankind and the Jewish People, begins, “This is the book of the stories (toldos) of Man.” Each human being has a story waiting and needing to be told. We live in a society where the world of news and entertainment keeps us glued to “great events,” while our own stories don’t get a hearing, even by ourselves and our families. As a chaplain in a hospital, I was allowed into people’s lives in a way that most of us don’t get a chance to experience. People facing death, loss of a loved one, a new diagnosis, or psychiatric issues have one thing in common: Each person has a story that he or she needs to come to terms with, a story that needs to be heard and appreciated and viewed through the lens of a human being struggling to live as a child of G-d.