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Re'eh: It's Not a Contest

In the introduction to her incredibly moving and thought-provoking memoir “The Choice,” psychologist and Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eva Eger makes a critical and powerful statement about the fallacy of comparing suffering between human beings. She describes a typical morning at her Southern California private practice, when she saw two patients back to back, both middle-aged mothers. The first patient spent most of the session in tears, overcome by the pain of her child’s harsh hemophilia diagnosis, which the doctors believed to be fatal. Dr. Eger’s next patient also spent most of the session crying, because her brand new Cadillac that was just delivered was the wrong shade of yellow. It is easy to scoff at the pain of the latter and notice our hearts clench at the suffering of the former, yet Dr. Eger recognized that “both women were responding to a situation they couldn’t control in which their expectations had been upended… both women deserved [her] compassion.”