Saturday, June 26, 2010

Six Months

"Lehadlik neirot bechol ha'olamot -
zohi Shabbat." - Zelda

To light candles
in all the worlds;
this is the essence
of Shabbat.

- Zelda

It was my good fortune to discover that quote of Zelda over Shabbos. It's the opening line of a poem called Shabbat VeChol.


On Saturday, December 26, 2009, my dear mother passed away. She was 73 years old, "too soon gone." That was exactly 6 months ago today and I couldn't let the death pass without mention.

Someone I know re-entered therapy after her mother passed away. The issue was mourning and the therapist tried to provide advice/answers. Some time later the therapist lost her mother and she told my friend that she owed her an apology.

Over Christmas weekend, 2009 I learned that the loss of a parent is one of those things that you don't get till it gets you.


Over Shabbos Azriel Chelst gave me a copy of a short book written by his father, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Chelst called Kaddish, The Unanswered Cry. It was helpful to read through it, most of all because he acknowledges reality, rather than being pie in the sky. He writes how many shuls neglect Kaddish due to talking:

"How little is demanded of us to respond...yet how difficult it seems to be to interrupt our worldly conversations to bring G-d into our world. And the unanswered Kaddish remains an impassioned plea in a vacuum, making no sound; a Jewish body of words without its soul."

Speaking even more directly to me, he writes: "Experience the emptiness of the mourner in a large synagogue in which decorum is the norm but in which few of the congregants appreciate the message of the Kaddish cry. The Kaddish cry draws little response because it is viewed as the mourner's personal prayer and not a plea for action. Those who do respond do so out of habit or courtesy and reflect the emotion filled words of the mourner's Kaddish with an empty, perfunctory response that leaves the Kaddish lifeless."

He concludes, "Recall a Shabbos morning after two or more hours of religious services. The lonely Jewish mourner rises again to recite the Kaddish. It is a lonely experience for him...Instead of a chorus of voices engulfing the orphan saying, "Let G-d's great name be blessed," there is a spiritual silence that is deafening. The Kaddish has now become a true Orphan Kaddish with no one to hear and respond to its cry. And in this seeming spiritual vacuum, the orphan hears all too clearly the echo of his own lonely muffled voice reflecting off the walls of the synagogue saying, "Let G-d's great name be blessed forever and ever."


I miss you mom.


Blogger torontopearl said...

"Over Christmas weekend, 2009 I learned that the loss of a parent is one of those things that you don't get till it gets you."

Neil, how very, very true. And time still marches on...

Hope your dad is coping reasonably well, as are you/your brother.

(Neil, how odd: first there wasn't a verification word when I wanted to publish this comment, and then the word that came up was "dismal"!)

June 29, 2010 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thank you so much Pearl, fellow traveler. Though your Year ended the journey must continue. Hope you and yours are well.

June 29, 2010 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Pesach Sommer said...


June 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Pesach Sommer said...


June 29, 2010 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks Pesach. I'm guessing the wow is regarding the Chelst quotes.

June 29, 2010 at 4:59 PM  

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