the good things about my FIL’s death

Now that I’ve been fixating on the inability to have all good, at least I should take the opportunity to find the good, even in what is definitely a hard time, still during the week of shiva after my father-in-law’s death.

In no particular order, unless I say that it is…

  1. It’s a really good excuse to give to telemarketers for ISHI not coming to the phone.
  2. Also to shidduch inquirers and meshulachim. I must admit I perhaps enjoyed that a little too much, telling them all he couldn’t come to the phone.
  3. Our son and DIL stayed for Shabbat and my father also came to be with all of us.
  4. I can tell people I don’t want food because my freezers are already packed and that’s true. I can also tell some people that yes, I would love food for my kiddies and that turns out to be my 30 year olds and my father and that was great. Now what do I do with the food that people actually did bring and we won’t eat?
  5. I can ask people to get me pomegranates so that I don’t have to worry about finding them (thank you, C!)
  6. People have been mostly very thoughtful.
  7. Someone brought pears and not just apples. ISHi doesn’t eat apples, along with many many other things.
  8. I can leave the room because I have things to get ready for Rosh Hashanah. Like writing this.
  9. We saw our kids all together.
  10. The cousins were all together.
  11. Everyone got along and there were no incidents, except for the fact that ISHI forgot to read his niece and nephews’ names at the funeral. I think. He was sure that he did.
  12. the last one–it’s over. Baruch Dayan Emet. The cloud of uncertainty has lifted. We know that everything was done in the most respectful way for him and he maintained his dignity as much as possible. And he chose life, on his terms.
I just read Rabbi Marc Angel’s dvar Torah for this week and not surprisingly, it’s right on cue. I’ll quote a bit, but it’s not that much longer than this. You should definitely take a look, if you don’t subscribe already.

The three themes in the Musaf of Rosh Hashanah may be considered in light of the themes of separation and reunion. The first section describes God as King, the Being that has control over life and death. When we contemplate this image of God, we react with fear, with a sense of separation. We realize that we are not ultimately in control of our lives–God is. We feel awed by God’s power, we feel separated, even alienated.

The next theme, though, is “zikhronot”–God remembers. He acts with kindness. God is a compassionate Parent who is concerned with our lives. We are not forgotten or forsaken. Our lives are not random or anonymous. We are remembered, we are brought closer to God and to each other.

The third theme, “shofarot”, serves as a bridge between the poles of separation and reunion. The shofar reminds us of the akedah story, a symbol of separation, where a father was to sacrifice his beloved son. Abraham, alone with Isaac on a forsaken mountain, realizes that God is the ultimate king with control over life and death.

But the shofar is also reminiscent of the revelation at Mt. Sinai. At that time, the Israelites were crowded together, united, touching shoulders. There was reconciliation between the people and God.

Rosh Hashana reminds us of the root of our greatest sadness and our greatest happiness. Memories of past separations come to mind, memories that will never leave us and that we experience intensely. But we also experience reunion. We are together in the synagogue. Members of our family have returned; friends and neighbors have come together. We are glad.


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