There are definite touchstones in our lives; those moments that we recall with a maelstrom of emotion. They forever change us and alter the trajectory of our daily existence.
This year alone I have danced at four weddings, including that of Younger Son and his Beshert, celebrated with three friends as they welcomed grandchildren, helped friends move from their house into a long-coveted condo, retired from my job/calling of twenty years, and I continue to grieve the loss of my Other Mother whose absence is still an enormous chasm I can't fully breach.
Twelve months. So much to digest. A roller coaster of emotional upheaval that is truly vertigo-worthy.
Every Shabbat in my synagogue we read the following passage from the Siddur (prayerbook).
The Talmud teaches:
Elu Devarim She-ayn La-hem Shiur...These are the things that are limitless,
of which a person enjoys the fruit of the world, while the principal remains in the world to come. (Pe-ah 1:1)
(The Hebrew is actually a bit more extensive, but the gist is in this opening passage.)
A second teaching from Talmud is then conflated with the first.
honouring one’s father and mother,
engaging in deeds of compassion,
arriving early for study, morning and evening,
dealing graciously with guests,
visiting the sick,
providing for the wedding couple,
accompanying the dead for burial,
being devoted in prayer,
and making peace among people.
But the study of Torah encompasses them all. (Shabbat 127a)
I have always liked these words, mostly because they speak to the philosophical daily norms to which we should devote ourselves, but I have often been left wondering if I ever truly made the effort to really live them. This year, I feel as though I did. (I can almost place little check marks beside them all.)
My personal journey through Judaism, and faith in general, has been sorely tested over this past year. Prayer, which had always come so easily in the past, is now stunted and muted. But these words from Talmud have reminded me of what is really important; to live in the moment, be kind, remember that we aren't alone in our journey, and that there is always a foundation to fall back on.
Believe me when I say, it helps.