My Childhood Buddy

My family and I just returned from a visit to my parents in Skokie, Illinois. The kids and grandparents of course had a great time, and Tzipah and I also had the opportunity to take advantage of free babysitting and steal away to sip a cup of coffee together 😉

One of the highlights of the trip was reconnecting with my childhood buddy, Jake. Growing up in Calgary, Canada, we spent many hours together exploring, biking and playing sports.

When my family moved to Skokie, Jake and I lost touch. The last I heard, he was married and living in Boulder, Colorado, as an editor of Skiing magazine.

Until, that is, I heard that he got a job at a top advertising firm. In Chicago. He and his family live a short drive from my parent’s house. So I sent him an email, and he came over for a visit earlier this week. It was truly a pleasure reconnecting with him. Jake and his wife are blessed with a daughter, Allison Rose, who, interestingly, shares a name with my daughter Shoshi (Shoshi is short for the Hebrew word Rose, and both girls are named after their respective grandmothers).

As he was leaving, I said, “When was the last time we saw each other?”

“I think it was your brother’s bar mitzvah.”

“That was two decades ago.”

“Have fun freaking out about that one,” he said with a smile.

We all know the various platitudes about time flying. But hey, time really flies!

I am reminded of an interpretation to a verse in the famous Shema prayer, which appears in this week’s Torah portion, Eikev (Deut.7:12 – 11:25).

Here’s the verse, with some fire and brimstone which precedes it:

“Take care lest your heart be lured away, and you turn astray and worship alien gods and bow down to them. For then the L-rd’s wrath will flare up against you, and He will close the heavens so that there will be no rain and the earth will not yield its produce, and you will perish swiftly from the good land which the L-rd gives you.”

The words rendered as “perish swiftly,” וַאֲבַדְתֶּם מְהֵרָה, can be read with something of a twist, as well. Allowing ourselves some grammatic license, we can read it as instruction to destroy (“perish”) the “swiftness” in our lives.

Often times, to truly enjoy our lives, we need to attemp to “perish” the “swiftness” – to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak.

If this is true in our lives in general, how much more so with regards to our spiritual lives of Torah study and prayer.

In today’s high-tech, on-demand world, it can sometimes be hard to take a step back, sip your coffee and enjoy the moment. It certainly is hard for me, at times. I have found that those moments — be they with friends, family or a moment of reflective Torah study — are the most pleasurable when I am able to destroy the swiftness, so to speak, and cherish the moment.

L’chaim & Shabbat Shalom!