Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Many Blessings to Remember in Sadness

I am sad! It’s okay to be sad. We buried both of my parents, the people with whom God cooperated to give me life, to bring my siblings and me into this world within five weeks, between mid-August and mid- September. In their lives well lived, they birthed a tiny dynasty of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and of course, the nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews; great-great-nieces and nephews and the teachings and the example of the lives they lived…. which will continue to sustain and guide us and all with whom we come into contact (with the help of Aunt Sandy, officially the only remaining matriarch of the family).

As I shared at my mom’s funeral service, she died on Parshat VaYelech, when Moshe/Moses begins by explaining to the children of Israel that he has lived his life, he is now 120 years old, not able to come and go like he did and that they will continue on without him. He will hand the reins of leadership over to Joshua and a new generation. His teachings will always be with the children of Israel and as we now know, so many generations later, the many children of children of children to come. So may it be with the memory of my parents and those of us in whom they instilled their teachings.

As I try to reconfigure my world, and think about what this means for myself and my siblings and cousins in terms of taking on those reins of leadership for our children, their children and generations to come, I realize how profoundly I am blessed. While the end of my mom’s and dad’s lives were quite difficult and challenging, I need to look past that and remember… Our son Brian and I were talking a few days ago and he asked how I think people appear in the next world after death, old or young or… My response was I think that they appear as the best that they became in their lives.

We are truly blessed indeed to have had my parents in our lives until this point, each of them dying at 91 (dad) and 92 (mom) when their bodies just had had enough. We are blessed with so many memories – funny ones, spiritual ones, family gathering stories, teachings from their own experiences, and so much more. We are blessed when we consider that these two people, with profound challenges in each of their lives, found each other and gave each other the gift of a live well lived together. I consider it a blessing that they are no longer suffering and are at peace, as Moshe must have been after his life. I know it’s a blessing that just because they are no longer physically with us, they are very much here still guiding us in so many ways. All we have to do is listen to our hearts. As the Rabbi who officiated said, they were together in life and now they have not even been separated by death. That too is a blessing.

At both funerals, all of us who spoke wove these beautiful tapestries of the meaning of their lives, the lessons of plowing through the challenges that confronted them, and the “take-away” of having been blessed to have them in our lives. I was struck at both ceremonies about what it means to truly leave a legacy and to make an impact on this world. I have already found myself thinking, “Mom you would find this funny” or “Dad, you would really enjoy this story.” Yes, they are still here within the beings they brought into this world and we will continue to be sure they are around our Shabbat table, in our Sukkah and present in each and every way possible as we continue this journey called life.

Strangely enough, in addition to these transitions in our lives, this is a very sobering time for all of us in our family as we have several friends and close people to us who are so ill. We all have these people so dear to us in our minds and are wishing them a Refuah Shelemah (full recovery). May their bodies heal, their spirits soar and the legacy they are building continue to have its impact.

As we begin the Chag/holiday of Sukkot, I constantly run the verse through my head of how God spreads the tent (the Sukkah) of peace and well-being over all of us. May it continue to be so.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Erev Rosh Hashanah and 9/11/15 (with thanks to JP)

A very dear friend (one of our dearest!) sent the following piece to me to read. I now pass it on for all of us to read.

This was taken from the following website:

…”When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world. I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below. There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

This universal force is LOVE. When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.

This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits. After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…

If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer. Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released. When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life. I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! “.

Your father Albert Einstein

Of course, there is a great deal of questioning as to whether Einstein wrote these words, but in the spirit of the message, let us agree with those who say he did.

Today, on September 11, 2015, this remembrance of what is worst about mankind, and as we consider how we each strive to be the best, especially those of us in the Jewish community preparing for the aptly named Days of Awe, let us all remember that it was through LOVE that God created our universe and all in it and it is this LOVE that we are commanded to share with and show each other when we are taught, actually COMMANDED to remember that WE MUST EACH LOVE THE OTHER AS MUCH AS OUR OWN BEING. It is in fact the utilization of this quality and the initiatives and intentions it inspires that allow us to best emulate God as well as show our gratitude in cherishing all that God has created.

May the memory of those who perished in 9/11 and all victims of violence that appears all too often to be a by-product of extremist beliefs inspire all of us to tap into that energy force of LOVE that is at the very root of who we are as humans.

May the year of 5776 bring healing and comfort and lessons of love to us all.