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What is missing in your life?

Jewish Journal News

I wrote this today four days after my first grandchild was born and dedicate it to Adina Lipsker and Moshe Wilhelm. Though my grandson will not remember the turbulent pandemic world he was born into (hopefully not), his parents are all too aware. Given that the COVID regulations prohibited me from being in the building, I paced outside the Brigham during his birth.

During that time I had three epiphanies.

First:

I suddenly had a newfound appreciation for that hopelessly maligned space we know as the “family waiting room.” A space that has unfairly borne the brunt of endless feelings of helplessness; so much rage absorbed in its walls; and the seating – oh those couches and chairs, outfitted with the ghoulish upholstery of sorrow, shock, and grief. In the midst of crisis, the room itself becomes a prime suspect in whatever has transpired wielding an imaginary power of life and death.

THAT room that I was now barred from due to COVID was suddenly endowed – in my mind at least – with all the mystique of the most exotic destinations: The waiting room decor, redone in the most vibrant hues; the colors of life itself. Would that I could find myself inside its narrow walls, I would prayerfully remove my shoes before deigning to stand on its hallowed ground: hallowed only by its proximity to my beloved daughter.

Instead; I could only glimpse the Promised Land through the screen of my cell phone and the flurry of real time WhatsApp updates from within the Holy of Holies of the birthing room.

Second:

As frustration mounted, I began to truly appreciate the compounded sadness of those who lost family members in the earlier stages of the pandemic but could not be with them in their final moments in the hospital. The grief of death is hard enough. Losing a loved one however, and not being able to hold their hands while soothing them gently, with whispered words of prayer and reminders that they are not alone, is a hellish form of double grief. My inability to be near Adina paled obviously in comparison but it was enough to bring on the thought.

Third:

I think this was the major epiphany. In my estimation the young people that have chosen and are continuously choosing to have children during these uncertain times deserve to be placed among the swelling ranks of COVID heroes.

“Ubacharta Bachayim” or “You shall choose life.” The conscious choice of pursuing new life in the very shadow of death adds a new layer of meaning to that Biblical phrase. In order to choose to live a mindful existence one must first exist! This existence is a direct result of the decision and particularly noteworthy choice made by THESE parents to bring new life into the world as it exists today.

In this, THEY are truly the descendants of our enslaved brethren in Egypt and all the other sites of our oppression throughout history: They chose to have children knowing they would be born into a dark world of cruel servitude. They are the heirs of an ancestral conviction that sees each child born as the unfurling of a banner of renewed hope and faith in a better world.

This is a direct and mindful response countering the above mentioned compounded grief with a compounded blessing: the birthing of children and its accompanying birth of hope.

As we inch closer to Rosh Hashanah, we are reminded of this very message. The Jewish new year coincides with the sixth day of creation; not the first. It highlights the day Adam – man – was created. It is the true beginning; thus signaling the pointlessness of a universe without a prayerful humanity at its center.

May we each draw on the latent mythic power of Adam Harishon (primordial man) that hovers during these last Pre RH days; a frisky energy eager to be reborn into the collective consciousness of the universe; standing by and ready to power us up individually as we explore radically new ways of being in the world.

We come to Rosh Hashanah as multitudes of “miniature worlds” – each frozen at the same stage; on the sixth day; a curious predicament. While our outer world seems somewhat intact, we sense that something fundamental is missing. And at some point we accumulate enough wisdom to figure out that what’s missing is right in front of our very eyes. What’s missing is OURSELVES.

Rabbi Yossi Lipsker leads Chabad of the North Shore.

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