I am sitting in preparation for our holy days. And as I do so, I reflect on the passage of time. What a few weeks for Tobi and I! We rejoiced in the birth of a grandson, Miles Henry, and danced at the wedding of Gabrielle and Seth! And life goes on as we sit with incredible gratitude to God for our children’s simchaot and our blessings! In a few days, we will say “Zacreinu L’chayim – Remember us for life” as we pray on these High Holy Days. A rabbi once said that these words express the hope that we will have many opportunities to say “L’chayim” as we raise cups of wine in celebration.
After returning from the wedding, I came back to Boca and B’nai Torah and officiated at the levayah (funeral) of a very dear friend and member, Paul Weiner. His loss is profound, and he will always be remembered with gratitude, honor and love. Paul taught me many things, including the importance of celebrating important moments (yes, and saying “L’chayim.”) The last few months during my visits with him he would serve me a glass of iced Irish Cream liqueur. I’d say, “Paul, I have to go back to my office – this will put me to sleep! I can’t drink during the day!” And he’d say, “Rabbi…David…we only have this moment. It’s good to be together. Let’s raise a glass.” And we’d say “L’chayim” and I’d return to my office and be very unproductive!
We only have this moment. Yet this tradition of ours which causes us to remember the past so frequently also lets us know that now is the time we have. The future is always uncertain and so we must bring our best intentions, our love, and our sense of responsibility to what we do now. Yet the past is full of memories that enrich and inform, and these recollections give a texture to the fabric of our lives.
I think that among the themes of these holidays, and all Jewish celebration, is the contemplation of time. We remember creation and therefore we recall not only its miracle, but also our responsibility. We remember the birth of children, and then we reignite our love and precious recollections and hopes for the future. We remember our days as slaves and being strangers to know that we have responsibilities in this world now. We remember those no longer here, and we remember cherished times and the values they wished to impart.
The Jewish notion of time pays attention to the moon and the cycles of the seasons. But it also points to a beginning and the direction moving forward. What was will never be again.
And so it is upon us to make moments count, to be present in the here and now, and to appreciate who we are and what we have.
May this be a year with a lot of “L’chayims” for you and your families!
Shabbat Shalom and L’shanah Tovah Tikatevu!
Tobi and our family join me in wishing you all health and peace!
See you in shul,
Rabbi David Steinhardt
This column is dedicated to the memory of Rubin Shafran z”l