Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Of milk and honey

I had such great blogging plans for the last two days of 5764. In my two days of freedom (read: mad errand-running) between my last day at the old job and Rosh Hashana, I expected to complete a Herculean list of tasks, and have the presence of mind to leisurely post on my blog. Ha! I completed a fair share of those long-procrastinated tasks, but blogging was not to be. In addition to not having the aforementioned presence of mind, I also had an unfortunate incident involving a glass of milk and my trusty Dell keyboard. Milk: it does a body good, but it's murder on a keyboard.

They say not to cry over spilled milk, and I didn't. Instead, I told myself that perhaps I was supposed to suffer this minor financial loss and inconvenience in the waning hours of 5764 as some sort of atonement. And, I was grateful that my hiatus between jobs allowed me the time to zip over to the local computer store, where I procured a perfectly serviceable and relatively inexpensive new keyboard. And there was even time to spare before Yom Tov to dash off a few emails. As inconveniences go, it was really one of the more painless ones.

And so, I cleaned up the spilled milk before heading into the holiday in which everything is dipped in honey. Yes, more blatant symbolism laden with cliches.

Rosh Hashana was good this year. On the first night, I davened in one of Pittsburgh's shteebles (house that serves as a shul), and got to hear a drasha (sermon), which set an appropriately introspective tone for the holiday. The rabbi spoke about the importance of praying with total concentration, just as Hannah does in the Haftarah of the first day of Rosh Hashana, thus setting a precedent for all of Jewry. It's hard to remember exactly what he said, but the gist was: Our prayers should be complete, and spoken from the heart, and we should focus on the idea that our fate is literally in G-d's hands, for good or for bad.

I used to think it seemed small-minded to pray to G-d for personal things, but over the years, I have come to realize that doing so is a demonstration of the belief that all of our needs are ultimately satisfied by G-d -- that we turn to Him, because we recognize that He is the One who sustains us. This year, I felt like I had some "quality time" in shul, which made me feel good.

The year behind me was a difficult one emotionally for a variety of reasons, including the gradual decline and death of my Zayde. Over the last eight years, my grandmother and four of her siblings, my grandfather and two of his siblings, two uncles, and a handful of other relatives have all died. Most were elderly, but some were not. It has been exhausting, and much of last year was pent-up with anxiety about whether and when my grandfather would die. (After scaring us several times with congestive heart failure and minor strokes, he quite stubbornly clung to life, and was very weak, but still lucid when he died in July at age 93. According to his full-time caregiver, in the last week of his life, he began speaking a great deal more about my grandmother and longing to be with her. It is a comfort that he is with her now, and no longer suffering.)

At his funeral, my sister and I said, in effect, "Okay, that's enough. No one else is allowed to die for at least 20 years." Although I know it is unrealistic to think that I won't experience any more sadness in the next two decades, I do have the sense that a very somber period of my life is behind me, and I am hopeful that the future will hold happiness that surpasses the sadness of the past.

On Rosh Hashana, I thought some about my grandfather, who so loved going to shul, and teaching his grandchildren to love it too. Growing up, my sister and I would sit with Zayde in shul, and afterwards walk home with him. When I was in high school, when he and I would walk hand-in-hand, he used to say to me, "Someday your grandchildren will walk with you to shul too." That someday always seemed so far away to me, and it still does, but now that he's gone, it seems like something so much more real to hope and pray for.

I pray that the year ahead will bring comfort, happiness, and peace to all of Israel.


  • At September 19, 2004 at 9:59 PM, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said…

    I hope that the year ahead brings you and your family only happiness, peace of mind, professional satisfaction, and health. Gmar chatimah tovah!

  • At September 20, 2004 at 10:08 AM, Blogger Anshel's Wife said…

    The image of you walking hand in hand with your grandfather is beautiful. You are so fortunate to have had him with you as long as you did. He sounds like a wonderful man.

    This should be your year! We are going to hear great things from you. You should have everything you want materially and spiritually. Lots of friends and a supportive family. Most of all, good health so you can keep doing all the good you are doing.

    (I was so happy to see you blogging again. I've missed what you have to say.)

  • At September 23, 2004 at 10:04 PM, Blogger carologic said…

    To a new and very sweet year. I miss our walks too.


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