12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
 
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Goodbye Friend    

Goodbye Friend



If we live the moment, then our worries about the future do not matter. They are irrelevant. We can put those fears aside and deal with them later…

 



Perhaps there is no amount of Torah learning that will take away initial shock and pain of a friend’s death. On December 8th a fixture from my youth passed away at age 77. Evidently he passed away in a peaceful manner, thank God. He worked up until the end in a field he loved and in which he was extremely successful. He had more friends than he probably knew what to do with. He had a beautiful family. I can think of many positives to dull the sting, or try to a little bit. But ultimately it comes back to the shock and hurt of someone who was a fixture in my life vanishing. I love God. I know He is in charge. I know the soul is immortal and that this world is an illusion. But it still hurts.

When someone’s death effects me emotionally, I tend to fall back on the classic set of lessons, if you will, that are supposed to make something good out of something that feels awful and is certainly inevitable. If there are hurt feelings out there, maybe we need to not put off mending them. Perhaps we should try to get back in touch with people who have drifted off. We should make a renewed attempt to appreciate the here and now. Or on an even more grand level we are reminded to get our priorities in line. On a side note, I recall an episode of Oprah Winfrey I stumbled on the day after the Columbine High School murders. Oprah said something like, “This show was supposed to be about how to clean out old junk from your house and how to get your closets organized. Frankly, I don’t care about how much stuff you have. If it makes you happy, keep it.” When someone dies, it is a slap that sometimes brings clarity.
 
Maybe I am over thinking this, but I am finding it a trifle difficult to live in the moment. Maybe it is just because I am sad and that is a distracting emotion. I wonder if it is about living correctly in the moment, not just appreciating its beauty. To figure out how to live correctly in the moment, we need to take a macro view of the situation. To take the macro view of a situation, we must engage the brain and delay. 
 
This delaying that we engage in when we take a macro view can be useful and even beyond useful, it can move a relationship towards a real and deep state of peace instead of inflicting a wound that may never heal. Rabbi Arush has written and lectured about the three-second rule. The Evil Inclination is at the helm for three seconds when a situation triggers us, so we had best wait at least that long to react; that is when we take over and kick the Yetzer to the curb. When we take the big picture view, we engage the brain and disengage the gut. 
 
Taking the big picture view gives us a moment to remember that Hashem has an agenda for us. He tells us what out priorities should be. And even if we are not exactly clear in a given moment what to do, if we are in the realm of Torah we are at least in the ball park, if you follow me. I am no Torah scholar, not even close. But I know that Hashem wants for me to be patient with my son. I know Hashem wants for me to make my guests feel comfortable and appreciated. I know Hashem wants for me to shut my mouth and listen to my parents, even if they are driving me nuts in that moment. I know that He does not care about half the stupid debates I get into with people and that He does not have an arguing trophy waiting for me.
 
There are some simple and profound benefits of living in the moment that are worth mentioning, despite how complex the notion can be. If I am living in the moment, then grudges I may have against a person, become in many ways irrelevant. In that moment you can at least be in the same space with the person in peace, at the very least from your side of things. The grudge only matters if I am remembering a past or protecting a future. 
 
If I am living in the moment with another person, then my worries about the future do not matter either. They are irrelevant. I can put those fears aside and deal with them later. Ironically, one could argue that living in the moment absent grudges and anxiety about the future creates a better present moment, which in turn paves the way towards a brighter day. It feels great to the other person to get a ‘do over’ and it feels great to the person who has allowed a painful burden to be lifted, even temporarily. 
 
The future has not happened yet and therefore does not exist, so there is nothing to worry about. The past does not exist, so there is nothing to be negative about. While the past does not exist, the experiences I had with our friend Mr. Prosky are a part of who I am now in many great ways. So many people enjoyed him and loved him. Thank You Hashem for that. I do not know why You took our friend when You did. It hurts to not have him here. He was such fun to know and we were so proud of him.
 
Rest in peace, Bob Prosky. 
December 15th, 1930 – December 8th, 2008




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