Dear Mr. Elder:
My son, Ariel, was a Rabbinical student until several months ago when he developed Pulmonary Fibrosis. He is now waiting for a lung transplant in Cedars Sinai Hospital. For years, my son and I have listened to your radio program, enjoyed it, and learned a tremendous amount. Ariel was admitted to the ICU five weeks ago and he will be there until a lung becomes available. He has been waiting for close to a year already. While in the hospital Ariel has read and reread your books and I have printed out your weekly articles for him because Ariel always wants to know "what Larry is thinking these days."
I have a tremendous favor to ask. Would it be possible for you to visit Ariel -- just for a few minutes? My son is a brilliant young man and as you can imagine, living in the ICU 24/7 can drive anyone crazy. And aside from his Rabbinic teachers I cannot think of anyone Ariel admires more than you. . . .
Ariel is a gravely sick young man yet he never complains, never makes demands, never says "Why me?" When my wife and I ask him what he wants, he simply asks for more prayers. But I know that meeting you would lift his spirits immeasurably. I know that a few minutes with you would bring a smile to his lips. I know that meeting Larry Elder would add a layer of joy to his life that nothing else could even come close to. . . .
Ariel has no idea that I'm writing to you. If he did, he'd tell me to stop, he'd tell me not to bother you. He's that kind of person.
Robert J. Avrech
Well, after receiving this letter on May 6, 2003, I most certainly did visit Ariel. I treasured our brief meeting. Sadly, Ariel passed away a few weeks later, never having found a lung donor. Recently, his father and I had lunch, and he asked that I contribute my thoughts about Ariel for a memorial book. I want to share those thoughts with you.
Ariel and God
Several months ago, I received an e-mail from Ariel Avrech's father, Robert. He told me that his 22-year-old son, at Cedars Sinai, lay awaiting a lung transplant. Ariel and his father, while in the hospital, often listened to my show, and discussed and debated many of the issues I brought up.
Robert told me that, through the radio, I became something of a -- I don't know the right word -- influence, inspiration, a hero to his son. Would I, asked Robert, take time from my busy schedule to visit his son?