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Rabbi's Week In Review- 09/08/2020

09/09/2020 07:03:40 AM

Sep9

This past week, I faced a tragic loss. A dear friend of 42 years, David Matsil, died of pancreatic cancer a mere 10 days after diagnosis. This was a friend from college who ended up marrying my brother-in-law’s sister. He was actually one of my two closest friends from my undergraduate days. Sadly and ironically, I lost the other friend, Steve Levy, to pancreatic cancer as well, although he survived five years after diagnosis.
 
A few thoughts from this experience. As I remarked when I spoke at the funeral, I have been asked “why” by others for whom I performed Jewish funerals, yet it really never crossed my mind that I would ask that question of G-d for myself. While I am left with a pretty significant gap in understanding, I still reach out to the G-d of compassion.  
 
This is the G-d we at Kol Ami discussed last week in our weekday-morning worship, even before I received the very sad news. The Talmud talks about the long suffering G-d, a reference to G-d in the plural. With this reference comes an understanding that as we suffer, G-d suffers with us. This is the G-d we call out to for compassion and mercy, most particularly as we sit in judgment before G-d on Yom Kippur.
 
I also spoke of how my friendship with David was an essential part of my story. As Jews, we often tell our story, particularly on the chagim — our holidays such as Passover and Purim. As we take this time each year to review our lives, it is important to understand all those who made our stories what they are, and a positive piece of who we are. We are known by those with whom we carry our most loving and important relationships.  
 
A final thought centers around this insidious disease. With all of our scientific advancements, we should understand that there is so much left to understand and to do. I and we speak often of the importance of honoring science in relation to broad issues; whether it be in relation to a pandemic or to climate change, we must never lose sight of how science impacts us on a micro level, on those closest to us. As Jews keenly understand, each life is unique and precious, and saving one life is as if we had saved the entire world.
 
May my friends’ memories always be for a blessing.

Wed, September 23 2020 5 Tishrei 5781