Yizkor Sermon – September 14, 2013, 10 Tishri 5744

We are a congregation of mourners.  Every single one of us has experienced the death of one closest to us.  We are brought together by our shared loss and our common pain.  We empathize with those near us through our mutual grief.  The most significant word this afternoon is “Zachor,” remember.  This is the overriding theme of these High Holy Days and it is certainly the key theme of today.  We remember our deeds, we remember our loved ones, and we remember that life is precious.  I had the occasion this summer to be reminded of this last fact by an incident within my own family.

In the last week of July, my 95 year old Aunt Esther, my mother’s sister, attempted suicide.  When she did not answer the phone by the early afternoon, her children went to her home and discovered that she was unconscious. She left notes all over the house giving her children instructions as to which bills to pay, what books to return to the library, and what foods in the refrigerator they should take home with them.  Clearly, she had thought this out.   She was rushed to the hospital where she was revived.  My mother, who is very close to her sister, reflected upon Esther’s actions.  My mother then added, “If I wanted to do it, I would do it right.  But I would never do it because life is too good.”    

      Life is too good. We wish that our loved ones had even a bit more time.  No matter how old they were, their time was too short.  We yearn to be with them, if just for a brief while. We want to see them smile, hear their laughter, and feel their hugs.  We want to share just a bit more time, a little more of life.  Life is good and we should treasure what we have as long as we can with those whom we love.

         According to the rabbis, God and the angels debated if God should create human beings.  The angels insisted that humans would abuse the world God gave us, that our yester hara, evil inclinations, would cause us to hurt one another and bring suffering into the world.  God replied, “What is the purpose of creation if there is no one to enjoy it?  The world is good and I will create humans to enjoy it.”  The simple lesson of this parable is that we need to enjoy the world God has given us as long as we can.  Since we never know when life will end, we need to cherish every moment with our loved ones as if it was our last.  As my mother said, life is too good. I add that the time of our life is too precious to waste.     

The mitzvah that supercedes all others is “Pikuach Nefesh,” the saving of a life.  Because each one of us is created in the image of God and is beloved by God, Oheb Shalom, through our Shleimut (Wellness) program, will be showing a brief, one minute film of how to do hands only CPR a few minutes prior to many of our services and events.  If, through the dissemination of this knowledge, we can save just one life, it is a minute well spent. The rabbis tell us that one who saves a single life saves an entire world.  By equipping everyone in Oheb Shalom with this life saving skill, we may be able to save one who may someday save the world. 

We should not be foolish or frivolous with our use of time we have. We must horde it, savor it, and relish it. Life is too good to waste.  We need to do all we can to safeguard it. May we be written and inscribed in the Book of Life in this year of 5774.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah,


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