By COLlive reporter
England’s former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has authored some 25 books exploring a wide variety of areas and topics, but he hasn’t written about his double battle with cancer.
Unlike other authors who successfully recovered and have written about their medical experience and journey of faith in G-d, Rabbi Sacks seldom mentions it in any of his books or lectures.
In a recent interview with Tablet Magazine, the 65-year-old who served for 22 years as chief rabbi was asked why.
“It’s very simple,” he replied, finally opening up about the topic.
Sacks said that his father had undergone some major operations in his later years. “He was walking on crutches at my induction” in 1991, the respected rabbi and philosopher recalled.
“I used to watch him saying Tehillim in the hospital, and I could see him getting stronger,” he told Tablet. “It seemed to me that his mental attitude was ‘I’m leaving this to Hashem. If He sees that it’s time for me to go, then it’s time for me to go. And if He still needs me to do things here, He’ll look after me.'”
Rabbi Sacks says he “adopted exactly that attitude” when he battled cancer twice, once in his 30s, and later in his 50s.
“On both occasions I felt, if this is the time Hashem needs me up there, thank you very much indeed for my time down here; I’ve enjoyed every day and feel very blessed. And if He wants me to stay and there’s still work for me to do, then He is going to be part of the refu’ah [healing] and I put my trust in Him.”
The rabbi explained that for him “there was no test of faith at any point—just these simple moments at which to say, ‘b’yado afkid ruchi’ [‘In His hand, I place my soul’]. That was my thought. And since we say that every day in Adon Olam, I didn’t feel the need to write a book about it. It was for me not a theological dilemma at all.”
“I had faith,” said Sacks, “full stop.”