A few weeks ago, I performed the funeral for a lady who lived to 102; actually, she was 102 ½ (to the very young and the very elderly, half years matter!). As her son reminded us, she was born in the year of the Russian revolution. She died in the year of the COVID-19 crisis. So, her century and more of life was bookended by traumatic events of global significance.
Though we may not live to 100, we all make the same sort of journey. A social commentator remarked recently that every year has its times of crisis and its periods of calm and quiet. We may judge certain events as being of greater or lesser significance for us personally or for society at large, but the rhythms of life remain the same. Each of us lives through these years and, if we’re blessed with further life, we’ll do it all again next year.
How remarkable it is to experience what life throws at us and realise that, if we have the resilience and the right sense of balance, we can survive life’s vicissitudes. That goes both for the periods of upheaval, when we’re buffeted by storms and feel lost at sea, and the periods of quiet, when we seem to be treading water. That we can make it through life and feel content at the end of it that we lived life well, with dignity and pleasure, is something of a miracle.
The miracleof life – that’s what my 102 ½ year old experienced in spades, and that’s what I’m thinking about as we enter this new year 5781 in the calendar of our people.
L’shana tova tikateyvu,
-- Rabbi Fred Morgan, Emeritus Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda, Victoria
Click on the sound file below to listen to Rabbi Gersh Lazarow sounding the shofar: