Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On Beyond Zikaron

This title is an obscure reference to my favorite Dr. Seuss book, "On Beyond Zebra," in which the young narrator postulates more than the 26 usual letters found in the English alphabet with florid engravings representing fanciful creatures in an imaginary world. This particular book is my favorite Dr. Seuss because it represents a salute to those who think "outside the box" and gives a glimpse of the fascinating possibilities of an imagination gone wild. The Rosh Hashanah holiday that has just ended this evening is also known in Hebrew as "Yom Zikaron Teruah," (the day of remembering the sounding of the shofar). This is because we pray that God will remember us and inscribe us in the metaphorical book of life. Considering the financial crisis in this country at this particular moment, I think it is easy to see that big changes will be upon us in the coming year and it will take great imagination and a willingness to cull that which is truly valuable in our lives from that which is frivolous and wasteful to succeed in bringing a better world into fruition in the future.

Rabbi Howard Addison's sermons the last two days centered on the first two sounds of the shofar, the ram's horn that is sounded as part of the liturgy of this holiday. The first sound that is blown, called "tekiah" represents simplicity. His sermon the first day called upon us to examine our values to develop a true appreciation of what we really need in our lives to make us happy--that material possessions beyond a certain point do not necessarily create happiness and often cause great misery because greed was the motive in pushing for more and more. Today's sermon had the theme of "brokenness" represented by the sound of "shevarim." Rabbi spoke about Isaac and how he was the most broken of our three fathers for many reasons, most famously that his father almost sacrificed him on an altar at God's command. His life was redeemed and some of the pain assuaged, however, by his loving (and unusually monogamous) relationship with his wife and children, suggesting that we can heal the broken parts of our lives by concentrating on improving our relationships with others. Of course, I am taking an hour's worth of sermons and boiling them down to a few lines. There was much more of interest and much depth contained in the theme of the sounds of the shofar. I enjoyed the services and sermons very much.

Our friend, Elaine, joined our synagogue this year and I invited her to join us for lunch. Mom felt up to joining us for a short time in the kitchen and I wheeled her into the living room in the late afternoon after she had slept for a while to join us for a few more minutes before she went off to bed for the rest of the evening. Her therapists seem to feel that she is beginning to give up and, like me, don't know whether to try to push her to keep doing more. I suppose I am reassured that even the professionals who deal with this all the time are unsure of what course of action to take at any given moment. If I knew what was expected of me it might make the job easier, though.

This afternoon, Saul and Ari Skyped with Saul's cousins in Israel, Shira and Mark, and Sylvia. We found out that Saul's aunt (his father's sister-in-law) has been placed in a Jewish assisted-living community in New Jersey. Tomorrow, hopefully, we will find out if it is Lion's Gate where his mother has been living for two months.

Ari arrived back home in D.C. safe and sound this evening, loaded with leftovers. Jess called this evening also to let us know that she and Alex and the kids, as well as Alex's parents and a number of their friends had a wonderful holiday as well. Now we proceed "on beyond zikaron" (remembrance) bravely and hopefully into a new year.

1 comment:

Ari said...

Like I told you during the first day's sermon, I'm still willing to take the chance that I could remain happy if I ever became wealthy.