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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Consider the message of chalk art

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Life is all right there – with all its nuances – so, when I see them, I jot them down in a BlackBerry file called “ideas.” There they are ready to use. They are available. Here are some moments, interactions, I was witness to or part of. You can define them any way you like.

• I was talking to some litigation lawyers at Ve’ahavta. I thanked them for their volunteer work. They told me that, in the course of the day, their clients rarely thank them. Do we think we don’t have to thank them because of their hefty hourly rates? But is that sound reasoning?  Shouldn’t we thank them for their caring? My family lawyer cared.

• I’ve discovered there are a number of different ways to spell the Almighty’s name. I was reading a newspaper, and to my surprise, there was the word “Gawd.” I’m familiar with G-d spelled by those who believe that the Omnipotent’s name is not to be tossed out with the rest of the paper. I know the word God, which is for those who likely put less stock in His written name. But “Gawd”? It seems somewhat redneck, the way “gosh” or “golly” would be. It’s quite something that we are so meticulous about the Almighty’s written name. Why? Do we who believe in God believe so much?

• A man I know was booted out of his home. One of my staff, Theresa Schrader, invited him to her house. He took her up on it. Theresa didn’t have an extra bed, so he slept in her five-year-old son’s bed. I asked many people if they would do the same thing, or at least free up their child’s bed for a guest to sleep in. I have often met non-Jews who are tenacious in their practice of good deeds, yet make very little fuss about them. Perhaps having the Torah naturally makes us louder about our goodness, like the kid who got all the answers right on her test. Is that true? Would you ask or tell your child to sleep on the couch for a guest?

• Now here’s an interesting one that naturally follows from the previous story. I’ve learned that there are many children who become very close with a neighbour, particularly those children who feel somewhat neglected at home. It’s as if they are adopting a parent or have found a parent figure in the woman or man down the street. One of my dear friends who grew up frum and somewhat impoverished told me about his neighbour who took a liking to him, introduced him to airplane models and took him to events around the city.

I know a man who, when he was a child, became like a son to the guy next store because he didn’t have a father and was invited to all their family celebrations. How wonderful, I thought, that people would extend themselves like that and feel such compassion for the kid down the block. Have you “parented” a child who you sensed needed it? 

Throughout the day when you are excited about your own quote, write it down. If someone else’s words move you, do the same. Watch your surroundings. Consider the course of the floating leaf or the message of the sidewalk chalk art. Life is a series of nuances all laid out in front of us to figure out. Or they are not.

Avrum@veahavta.org

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