Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rockin' the Old Folks at Home

Yom chamishi, 16 Elul 5770.

The Dearly Beloved in his new "Tulsa Time" shirt.


The Jewish month of Elul is a time for serious introspection, and focus on improving our observance of the 613 mitzvot (commandments).

Seems like a lot of stuff to get right, doesn't it?

It is impossible for any one person to fulfill all 613 commandments.  After all, some mitzvot can only be done by women.  Others, only by men.  Some can only be done by kohanim (priests).  Some commandments can only be fulfilled in the land of Israel.

There are a few comforting explanations offered for this.  We are reminded that we are a team -- united we stand, divided we fall.  In order to make one successful Jew, all Jews have to participate in the process.  It's nice to know we all count.

Another interpretation is that G-d loves us so much that He gives us 613 mitzvot so that we can each get at least one right.

The Dearly Beloved has several mitzvot that he fulfills well, in my humble opinion.  One of his best is kibbud av v'aim, the commandment to respect one's parents, specifically, and one's elders, in general.

The irony of this is that he lost his parents when they were very young.  That didn't stop him, though.  He spent thirteen years giving shelter and love and respect to my mother, before she, too, left this world.

You would think that fulfilling the mitzvah of kibbud av v'aim is a little difficult without parents, and especially difficult when you reach the age that people in their forties politely offer you their seats in the bus.  Not so -- at least where my husband is concerned.

I have learned so much from him, watching the great respect he has for elderly people.  Whenever he meets a WWII vet -- they're easy to spot, because they are proudly wearing WWII ball caps on their hoary old heads -- he will stop what he is doing, and converse with them about The Great War for as long as they care to speak.  His obvious love for them, and his gratitude for what they did, always pulls at my heartstrings.
We met this sweet couple as we waited for a bus in Jerusalem.  They're getting married soon.
Yesterday, half of the "Strung-Out Quartet" (our five-member garage band -- I'll tell you more about the band another time) accepted an offer to play a few tunes at the Nofei Yerushalayim Nursing Facility in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood.  The Dearly Beloved and our fiddle player, Uzi, spent a couple of hours playing country tunes and Jewish melodies for the residents of the home.

Uzi, fiddling around at rehearsal

Uzi lost his own dear father very recently, and is therefore not permitted to play music for a year -- except when he is doing it for parnassa (payment).  Jewish law demands respect for the dear departed -- but the Torah approach is not to endanger life or livelihood in the process of fulfilling the law.  But to Uzi and to my husband, the greatest part of their "paycheck" was the opportunity to make their parents' peers smile, tap their toes, and sing along.

As usual, the Dearly Beloved said that the best moments of the day were conversations he had with a few of the residents and volunteers.  The fact that some of them were Israelis made conversations about American country music quirky, but even more entertaining.  And the pancakes were also great!

Next time, you'd better have "Cotton-Eyed Joe" in your repertoire, boys.
May our careful attention to the fulfillment of the mitzvot hasten the Redemption, speedily and in our days.

Thanks for the cool new shirt, Rabbi Adler.
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