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Be  Remembered for  Kindness

10/28/2021 09:15:23 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

In this week’s verses of Torah, Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah), Abraham mourns the death of his beloved:

“Sarah's lifetime-the span of Sarah's life-came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. Sarah died in Kiriath-Arba-now Hebron-in the land of Canaan; and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her.” (Genesis 23:1-2)

This line of Torah hits home for all of us as grief and loss are the cost of being human. We are programmed to create meaningful, sometimes complicated, lifelong relationships with other humans. It begins from the day we are born, with our parents, and continues throughout our day to day lives.

This beautiful poem found in Mishkan T’fillah for a House of Mourning puts into words so eloquently the complication of the heart that comes with loving other people:

It is a fearful thing to love

what death can touch.

A fearful thing to love,

hope, dream: to be –

to be, and oh! to lose.

A thing for fools this, and

a holy thing,

A holy thing to love.



your life has lived in me,

your laugh once lifted me,

your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings a painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,

a holy thing,

to love

what death has touched.

If we take some time to reflect on the line “to remember this brings a painful joy” we are reminded that memories of a loved one who has passed are the gift – for better or for worse, that live on forever.

Each day that we spend moving through our lives we are creating memories with the people we interact with. Sometimes we are only connecting with them in the grocery check out line and sometimes we spend more time with them at the office than we do with our own families. No matter the duration of our interaction we are writing the memory that person will have of us. So, what do we want it to be?

As we continue to live in this time of uncertainty, I hope that we can all find a way to work towards creating memories of kindness, understanding, patience and joy. I will leave you with this inspiring poem by Israeli poet Shirey Zelda.


Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents

Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear

Each of us has a name
given by the mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

© 1985, Zelda
From: Shirey Zelda
Publisher: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1985

© Translation: 2004, Marcia Lee Falk
From: The Spectacular Difference
Publisher: Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 2004, 0-87820-222-6

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783