So as we have done for ages…
We only control what we say and do.
The rest is in G-d’s merciful, blessed hands. 😉
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!
They don’t want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that’s the way it is.
On top of it, they don’t even get overtime for all the unbelievable hours they have to put in.
One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off.
Finally, finally, finally–the employer gave in–for just a single day!
The person was so happy–one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity.
I was so happy for them!
Every person deserves at least one day off per week.
Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.
There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this.
People need a day to rejuvenate.
Everything is nature does.
Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself.
There is a natural cycle to things–peaks and valleys–and we need to have some rest and relaxation–to work for something and not for nothing.
The joy on this person to just have a day off–it was so incredible and touching.
It spoke light years to me about treating people right–just–humanly–with compassion–and doing good over evil in this world.
What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?
Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers.
Care for people–they are people.
Love people–they are G-d’s beautiful children.
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to–to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.
It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions.
Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry.
Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen.
Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence.
But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other.
One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily.
On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.
Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time.
Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable.
We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness.
Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder.
Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉
(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
Today the Rabbi spoke about that on Monday night is the solemn night of Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av).
It is the day that Jews remember and cry about the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem–on the exact same day in history almost 700 years apart–in 586 BCE and and 70 AD.
Tisha B’Av is also the date when Germany entered World War I which as we know started a series of events that led to the catastrophe of the Holocaust.
We remember and cry on Tisha B’Av as we went from freedom to worship and live in Jerusalem to the exile and servitude to the Babylonians and the Romans.
It the polar opposite of the holiday of Passover, where we celebrate and commemorate going from servitude under the Egyptians to freedom and redemption to get the Torah and enter and settle the Holy Land.
By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat (and) also wept
When we remembered Zion
On willows in its midst
We hanged up our harps
For there our captors asked of us
(For) words of songs and tormented us (with) mirth:
‘Sing to us from the song of Zion’
How will we sing the song of God
On a foreign land?
If I will forget you Jerusalem
My right hand will forget (its skill)
My tongue will stick to the roof of my mouth
If I will not remember you
If I will not raise Jerusalem
Above my happiness
We as a people have been through so much…servitude, expulsions, crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, genocide…thousands of years of discrimination, torture, rape, and murder–yet, Israel Doth Live!
As the L-rd promised the Jews–after exile would come redemption, and so it is!
For thousands of years, the Jewish people yearned for a homeland where we could live in peace and security and for the rebuilding of the Holy temple–please G-d in our days soon.
From the rivers of Babylon to the Nile in Egypt and the Rhine in Germany–we have paid the ultimate price and sacrifice to G-d and we pray that the Jewish people can once again be free to live and worship as foretold “from the River in Egypt to the Euphrates River.” (Exodus 23:31) 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
But with the hip surgery, I have to admit that I have had some moments of literally screaming pain.
The surgeon said he did about a full half hour of cauterization to prevent another bleed (hematoma) and infection that happened last time…so not sure if this is causing the extra-extra sting.
Usually when they ask my level of pain, I say like 2-3, because I imagine a 10 being some horrible torture like being sawed in half (while hung upside down–actually saw this in a movie) or flayed of your flesh, burnt alive at the stake, or quartered by horses–or countless variations on these.
Let’s just say, the medieval tormentors had this torture stuff down.
In a way, I almost feel guilty expressing my post surgical pain (sort of child’s play) relative to these made-to-order cruelties.
Of course for pain, the doctors give you medicine, but honestly I don’t like to take these because of side-effects and even addictive properties.
But the nurse and physical therapist told me not to let the pain get ahead of me, because then it is harder to control it (and also harder to do the full PT and get the benefits from it).
In the hospital, I was amazed that some people had so much pain (i.e. me) and others just sat there in PT seemingly shrugging off the whole experience.
Still I made it the full loop with the walker the first day (which the therapists told me is maybe 3x what most others do at that point).
Another thing that I am thinking about with pain, is how do you compare emotional and physical pain–which is worse?
The loss of loved ones, deep disappointments, suffering with sickness or disability, anxiety and depression can certainly cause a lot of pain inside–those are the screams that often no one hears.
Also, that hurt can often lead to physical sickness and bodily pain and vice versa–so they are not mutually exclusive.
My father used to tell me that “When you have your health you have everything.”
I think this is partly because if you don’t have your health, you can’t really do or enjoy much else anyway–so good health is sort of a precursor to all other activities and pursuits.
Probably the worst pains are the ones where their is simply no hope of getting better…and you just have to accept the loss or the end.
The corollary that my father taught me was “Where there is life, there is hope!”
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Often we hear about lost children with everything from Amber Alerts to our phones and billboards to advertisements on local TV and even on milk cartons–and it is completely frightening.
Rarely though do we come into contact with lost children…but yesterday it happened to us.
We were taking a nice quiet walk around the neighborhood, but something was different this time.
I see 2 children running down the block, and as they get closer, I see they are not playing, but running scared.
The taller, older girl is ahead of a smaller boy.
As the girl is within speaking distance, her whole face breaks into tears and she starts sobbing loudly.
Not knowing if they were in some imminent danger, I asked quickly what was wrong and were they in danger.
By now the little boy has caught up with his sister and they–taking turns–saying they are lost.
We start asking more questions.
Are you from around here? No, they are visiting from NY.
What is the address of where they are staying? Don’t know.
What the name of the people they are staying at? Don’t know.
Where are their parents? Don’t know–they told them to go out and run around the (strange) neighborhood.
How old are they? The girl is 7 and the boy is just 4.
We told these 2 little kids not to worry that we would help them find their way back and that we wouldn’t leave them until we did.
Immediately, we headed back from where they had come from to backtrack and find their parents.
The boy and girl took turns running ahead, crying, afraid they were not going to find the house they came from and saying the streets here are so curvy unlike the square blocks where they are from in NY.
As we kept going around, I started to get leg pain, as I am still on a cane myself from recent surgery, and we were rushing to find their home in the midday Summer sun.
We made it down a long block, looking this way and that with the kids–turned the corner…then again the same thing…down another block…although we try to calm them, as we kept going, the kids get more panicky that they were just completely lost.
Finally, thank G-d, a lady in the distance…the kids start running…they recognize her immediately…it’s their mother.
The lady sees us behind them bringing them home to her…she picks up the little girl who makes it to her first…so glad to have her kids back.
She waves to us…a quick sort of thanks–and turns and walks away.
That was it…she didn’t say a word and was gone before we even caught up.
The kids were really sweet–and were also fortunate–and I hope they are okay and never have to experience anything like that again.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
My daughter snapped this photo of my wife and I while we weren’t looking.
When we got home my wife titled it “Walking Off Into The Sunset.”
We both cried when we saw it!
So full of meaning…
Two people, different, but hearts and hands together.
Walking into the future, not sure where it is going to take us.
Some day we’ll be old, and we’ll look back at all the times.
Hopefully, all for the good, but always trying to make the best.
We’ll walk off into that sunset sometimes with tears, but always with joy.
(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
Day 4…pain gradually subsiding, walking improving.
Still pushing my body…walk, ice, walk, ice.
But more than the physical, I realized that I was going through something far more spiritual in my journey.
People are coming out of the woodwork telling me their travails through these surgeries.
One old time friend, welcomed me to the “Hip Club”–her new hip is 4 years old, but I didn’t even know she had it done (albeit that we only keep in touch through Facebook these days).
Another, my neighbor, had knee replacement in 2011–again, was I too busy or blind to know–I felt like an absolute card. She in particular told me again and again, “I cried, I cried.”
Later in the day, as I am trying to figure it all out–how am I going to get everything done and back on my feet, my wife says to me, “Now’s your chance to make things right!”
Then it hit me, that while I always try to think of myself as trying to do what’s right, I wasn’t doing enough.
Open your eyes Andy.
There are lot’s of people that are in pain, that are crying, that need help.
What are you doing about it?
Do you even see them?
Are you aware they are there?
WAKE UP CALL.
Do Better, Make things right. Try harder. Do More.
It’s not too late.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
A Walk To Remember–what an absolutely amazing movie.
This girl with a beautiful soul, Jamie, turns around the life of this lost boy, Landon.
She warns him not to fall in love with her, but he does.
She reveals that she has Leukemia and is no longer responding to medicine.
Landon is head over heels for her and marries her despite the prognosis.
They enjoy one summer of love before she passes.
But she has changed his life forever.
I cried like a baby at this one.
It was a movie of faith, love, and turnaround–it made me believe again. 😉
“Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude of selfish. It does not offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.” – Nicholas Sparks
The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is tonight, and it is a time of introspection and commitment to do better in the future.
On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Shofar (traditionally made from a ram’s horn) in synagogue.
My sister-in-law, Sara Herbsman, told me a beautiful learning about the three types of blasts on the Shofar that correspond to 3 types of people that think they may be beyond repair, but who can still improve their lives:
1) Tekiah–tekiah means rooted and is one long blast–a person is never too stuck, stubborn, or set in their ways to change.
2) Shevarim–shevar means broken and the sound is 3 short broken blasts–that is a person is never to broken to fix.
3) Teruah–comes from the word Ra which means bad and is 9 rapid very short alarm blasts–that is a person is never too bad or evil to repent.
For those who have heard the Shofar blast, it is a moving experience–as if your very soul is stirred to introspection and fear of heaven.
I remember learning in Jewish Day School that our prayers would ascend to G-d in heaven on the blast of the Shofar.
But what I always like the best was the story of the one little boy in synagogue who did not know how to pray, but instead just cried–and his tears, full of sincerity, ascended beyond all the other prayers all the way to throne of the Almighty.
May G-d bless us with a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elias Punch)