Editor's Note: In honor of Father's day, Rabbi Michael Levy shares this loving tribute to his father. Click here to read Part 1, which ends with a doctor's discovery of a spot on his father's lung.
My parents tried to cover up this health crisis like all the medical problems of the past. This was especially so because my wife Chavi and I were expecting.
In September, all four of our parents helped with our "big Sunday." We moved and arranged furniture from morning until evening. The file cabinet made its way from the "second bedroom" into ours. A bed disappeared downstairs into the storage area.
A big empty space appeared along one wall of the second bedroom, waiting for a crib. I didn't see my mother's tears when my mother-in-law caught her off guard with the question "How's Aaron?"
I learned about the spot on Dad’s lung only as they were preparing him for the operation. The bicycle ride of so many years ago came to mind. The collision had happened.
We could celebrate Shavuot as we just celebrated Memorial Day: with ceremonies, a day off from work and a festive meal. Our tradition urges us to celebrate Shavuot in a more spiritual manner, by recreating the experience of standing at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.
At the Passover Seder, we recall the Israelites’ redemption from Egyptian slavery. It is an appropriate time to examine the link between Egyptian slavery and beliefs that can keep us in bondage.
The “Egypt Within”
The Hebrew word for Egypt, “Mitzrayim,” closely resembles the Hebrew word “maytzarim,”—boundaries, constraints, narrow and confining spaces. None of us is physically enslaved, but some of us experience “the Egypt within,” believing that we are trapped by our disability, confined to “narrow spaces,” from which we cannot escape to live fulfilling lives.
During the merry celebration of Purim this upcoming Saturday night and Sunday, children and even adults will wear masks and costumes. Masks echo the theme of concealment in the Purim story itself, which we will read in the Scroll of Esther.
God’s initial revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when He uttered the Ten Commandments, was accompanied by lightning, thunder and shofar blasts that inspired the soul. The inspiration lasted just forty days.
“Right is might” civilizations mistreat vulnerable people—slaves, strangers, widows, orphans and the poor. This week’s Torah portion obligates us to see to the material well-being of these disadvantaged groups. Equally important is the support we provide through empathy.
After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and emerged victorious in the war against Amalek, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro joined them in the wilderness. Our Torah portion recounts how he was welcomed by the congregation:
“Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.” (Exodus 18, 12.) The commentator Rashi wonders “Where was Moses?” He concludes that Moses was occupied himself with serving the meal (rather than eating with Aaron, Jethro and the elders.) One can imagine that Moses also saw to the preparation of the meal.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.