Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feeling Angsty Or The Apartment 4J Post

It's almost six complete years since I started this blog. It's almost fifteen full years that I've been working at the same place. It's almost a year since mom died.

I woke up at six thirty this morning. It's now 2:48 PM. It's almost a year since Mom died.

If mom were here she'd say I blog too much. She'd say I post personal things that don't have to be told to the whole world. If mom were here she'd correct me, say it's only ten months, ask why I have to make it sound longer than it is and call it a year?

Yesterday someone saw me carrying The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. It was someone who made a shiva visit and knows about my loss. Last night a friend asked how I'm doing with mourning for mom. People can be so different one from the other.


Lately I'm thinking of currency. If you play monopoly with real money, you might get thrown out of the game. You can know as clear as day that your green bills are worth more than the yellow and pink and orange money the others are using. But if you want to play their game you have to pretend that their money is real. Sigh.


Existential Angst - On Chayei Sarah


A pretty well known medrash explains the connection between the end of VaYeira and the start of Chayei Sarah: Satan appeared to Sarah and told her that Avraham brought Yitzchak to be sacrificed. Before he reached the story's end, she died of shock. There is another, lesser-known version of the same medrash in which Yitzchak himself comes and tells Sarah what happened, and she dies from the shock.
In the storyline that has Yitzchak appearing before Sarah, we must wonder what caused Sarah’s fatal shock. Aviva Zornberg suggests that according to this account of the Medrash, what affected Sarah was a sudden confrontation with the stark realization of the fragility of our lives. In this telling of the tale, Sarah realizes that "were it not for the angel" Yitzchak would have been killed. According to this approach the connection between Akeidat Yitzchak and Sarah’s passing is the precariousness of life. Yitzchak's close call with death overwhelmed Sarah with such an unbearable existential angst that it took her life.

Many of us know of other human beings that were here one second and gone the next. Deep down, we also all know that every second we breathe could be our last one. A lesson of the Akeida is the message that the physical world in which we exist is temporal in nature. Yitzchak's near death experience, that so shocked Sarah, serves as a reminder to us that we lack ultimate control over our lives. May we all be blessed to utilize our awareness of the delicate nature of life as a motivation to do teshuva and to constantly grow in our closeness to G-d.



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