From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
Our Judaism teaches, “All beginnings are hard.” It’s true. If it’s really a new beginning, then we’ve never done it in the past. We can only bring some life experience with us and do our best. But we can’t know with absolute certainty what the experience will be or how it will make us feel.
In those moments, we brace ourselves for the inescapable. For some, it’s exhilarating. It must be true for extreme athletes or adventurers who enjoy putting themselves in situations they’ve prepared for but never experienced. The rush that overcomes them appears to propel them farther and with great stories to tell when they recover. For others, it’s emotional. Reaching the inescapable moment in life when a child is born and placed in a parent’s arms, or walking a child to the wedding a canopy, or accompanying a deceased loved one to the grave can produce tears of joy or sorrow. You might identify as the person who seeks the rush, or the person who weeps with joy or sorrow.
I’m not a risk-taker and hardly an athlete. Instead, I can be an emotional person, but so was my father. Like him, I’m in awe of the moments when profound life events occur. For instance, when a baby is born, the science is obvious to us; but when the baby emerges and we hold a new life that makes us parents and grandparents for the first time, we can be overcome with emotion as we absorb all that that means. Likewise, when we accompany a child to the chuppah, the wedding canopy, the rites of marriage transform our children into married partners whose primary love is now between them. The power of that moment is profound joy accompanied by the inevitable truth that we are effectively done rearing our children. At the end of life, how can we not mourn the end of one’s natural life and the rhythm that all living things obey. We stand in awe of what we can’t control and can’t revivify. We can only retrieve from death that which can never die, which are the memories and love that lives within us.
Apropos of new beginnings, this week we begin reading Torah from Genesis 1:1, with the first words of Bereisheet. The Torah is the same as it was since it was first received by our ancestors; but we are new, again, this year. And if “all beginnings are hard,” then we can anticipate that, despite our life experiences, we might not be prepared for everything we might face in the coming months. How will you and I respond? Will we feel a rush of adrenaline like an extreme athlete or like a risk-taker who lives on the edge? Or will we tear up with emotions as we encounter life’s awesome and inescapable moments?
On October 15, 2021, my daughter, Abby, and her fiancé, Randy Olmsted, will be called to the bimah for a betrothal blessing. You’re invited to Shabbat services at 6:30pm in the sanctuary, in-person, and live stream, to share Lisa’s and my joy when our daughter comes to the bimah with Randy, for a blessing, and to the Oneg Shabbat in their honor. I’ve been father-of-the-groom, but never father-of-the-bride (I’ve seen the movie). This awesome time is ripe with blessings and the potential for tears. Your presence is not to witness my emotions, but to share with us in life’s inevitable moment when two young people prepare to bind themselves to each other with vows, dreams, and love.
What new beginnings are you anticipating? I pray that they’re hard only because they’re profoundly meaningful and filled with reasons to be grateful.