I am headed out today to celebrate with a dear friend. I must admit that I wouldn't brave the jungle that is Toronto Friday mid-afternoon traffic to head downtown for just anybody, so the occasion must be pretty special. My friend the doctor (I sound like an old Jewish mother) is being feted by the big machers of his profession today, and is being awarded with (I hope I get this right) The Medal for Research Excellence awarded each year by the Kidney Foundation of Canada. This award is given annually "to honour the Canadian researcher who is recognized by his or her peers to have significantly advanced the treatment of kidney disease and related conditions." Impressive, yes? I am so very proud of my friend the doctor (it just sounds so right to say it that way!!) and I am so very honoured that he wanted to share his special moment with us.
My friend the doctor is an incredibly accomplished man. He literally is trying to eradicate disease and rid the world of its ills. He travels the globe lecturing, learning, researching, and attempting to make children's lives easier, happier, and free from pain. (He plays a pretty mean cello too, but I digress.) He is leaving an incredible mark. So, it got me to thinking. What kind of mark am I leaving?
It would be so easy to dismiss my contributions to the world as merely teaching a bunch of Jewish kids how to sing "I Have a Little Dreydl" every Chanukah. But wouldn't that be unfair to all of those kids who went on to teach Chanukah songs and traditions to their own children? It would be simple to feel disparaging about musically lifting a congregation in soulful prayer. After the idea of curing kidney disease it does seem somewhat trite. But wouldn't that diminish the emotions of the community at the end of Shabbat or Holy Day services?
Look, I know that I am not curing cancer. I will leave that to my friend the doctor. I know that what I do may seem uninteresting or dull to many, but just like him, I am using the gifts that I was given to serve my community to the best of my ability. Maybe my music makes somebody feel just a little bit better on a particularly bad day? Perhaps passing on our heritage to the next wave of young people is my reward of excellence? L'dor vador-from generation to generation.
I am thrilled to be able to join with my friend the doctor on his special day. May he continue to find joy and passion in his work and may it yield fruitful results so that the multitudes that suffer find health and peace. What a great way to enter into Shabbat!
Shabbat Shalom to all who observe.