Friday, October 3, 2008
GRATEFULNESS FOR A FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP
On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the stirring, frightening and disturbing episode of the Akeda-the Binding of Isaac- was read in the synagogue."Take your son, your favored son, Isaac, whom you love...and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the heights..."(Genesis 22:2.)It becomes quickly evident that this command is not meant to be carried out but serves as an almost inconceivable challenge to Abraham's sense of trust in God.
The text goes on with a poignant description of a father-son relationship."...and the two of them walked off together."
The depth of this kind of relationship assumes the most compelling of dimensions. What emerges in the Torah narrative is a shared commitment between father and son, between parent and child, between the generation of life-givers and the generation of life-receivers, to an ideal or conviction that transcends life itself. It is a most powerful metaphor for cross generational unity and mutuality.
For me, on Rosh Hashanah, I experienced, in not a fearful but a joyful and grateful way ,the walking together with my son, as we shared in the "mitzvah" of bringing the beauty of Rosh Hashanah to patients who were unable to be in synagogue but for whom their sacred space was the hospital. We shared our presence, our greetings, our wishes and prayers for health, and our breaths, as we each took turns in sounding the shofar for this unusual congregation.
My gratefulness was such that these few hours of 'bikur holim,'visiting the sick, was not a sacrifice but a gift to me and I believe to my son, the incredible gift of sharing ourselves together for the sake of others.
I am most thankful for this experience, and its memory nurtures my sense of gratitude beyond the moment of its occurrence.