Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Earth Etude for 17 Elul

Shehechiyanu moments

Given the choice, I would much rather commune with God through nature as I walk in the woods or meditate next to a natural body of water, than inside a synagogue turning the pages of a prayer book. Whenever I’m outside, be it on a walk, riding a bike, or even driving a car, my observations sometimes appear as a magnificent sunrise or sunset, as a raptor gliding effortlessly above the ground circling for its next meal, or as a herd of deer standing majestically in a field by the side of the road. These are my “Shehechiyanu moments,” when I am grateful for the present and the gift of life bestowed upon me.

During the month of Elul, as we approach the New Year, I never cease to be amazed by our ancient ancestors who developed a remarkably complex set of calculations used to create our unique calendar. Their ability to ascertain precise dates within our calendar, based purely upon decades of lunar observations and seasonal changes, is nothing short of miraculous. In a cosmos over which they had no control, paying attention to patterns of heat and cold, light and dark, rain and drought was literally a matter of survival.

The rabbis teach that this month should be a time of introspection and mentally mapping a course of self-improvement for the coming year. So, I will think about the most precious and important aspects of my personal life: my wife, my children and my grandchildren. If I can continue to improve upon being a better husband, father and grandfather, then I will be blessed with riches well beyond material wealth. I will continue to try to teach my grandchildren, the importance of acts of kindness, respect of others and helping those less fortunate, and respect for all living creatures. I will try to emphasize not just the awesome mysteries of nature and our universe, but how fragile the balance between human and nature can be. Hopefully, they will grow into adulthood with the knowledge and appreciation of what God has given us and the desire to protect and preserve our planet for their descendants.

- Joel Feinberg is a husband to Marilyn for over 43 years. He is a father of a son (Eric) and a daughter (Heather) both of whom reside with their respective families in Chicago, and grandfather to Talia (6), Ava (4) and Asher (17 mos.) He is trying to retire, but still working as an entrepreneur in his own business. Avid sports fan, bike rider and cook.

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