Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Being Noticed

Last Shabbat, we held a Seudat Hoda'a - a "Meal of Thanksgiving" (not to be confused with the American tradition held in November, but of similar original intent) - for the bad car accident that happened last year. I could have sworn I wrote a piece on it here, but I can't seem to find it...

Alright - the brief version. Many of the boys of our Boy Scout troop (Troop 1299) went to Camp Broadcreek for a week of Summer Camp last year (as every year.) On the way back, at around 5:30 PM on Friday, July 2, they were in a bad accident. Thank God, everyone survived, and came away with no majorly persistent health issues (although the driver had to be flown to Shock Trauma).

So this year, our son asked us to make the Kiddush, in commemoration, and I had to find something to say. This is the main point of what I said:

In Parshat Chukat, we are told, (Numbers 20:1) "וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל הָעֵדָה מִדְבַּר צִן בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם בְּקָדֵשׁ וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם" - "And the entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there." And then the very next verse says, "וְלֹא הָיָה מַיִם לָעֵדָה וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל מֹשֶׁה וְעַל אַהֲרֹן" - "And the congregation had no water; so they assembled against Moses and Aaron."

So Miriam, Moshe's sister; the one who put him into the river in a basket, and watched over him; one of the leaders of K'lal Yisrael, died. And apparently, no one noticed. No one cared. We don't see any outpouring of grief for her passing, like we do see for Aaron and Moshe. Nothing. What do we see? We see that they were concerned they had no water. Rashi explains that the juxtaposition of the two verses is due to the causal nature of the first to the second. He says that the reason they had water for all those years in the desert was that there was a well that traveled with them, in Miriam's merit, that always provided water for the people. For 40 years in the desert, they had water - which is life - due to Miriam. Now she died, and the only concern of the people was that the well was gone. In fact there is at least one opinion that says that the reason the well dried up after her death is precisely because no one seemed to care that she died.

And so this is one of the messages of the parsha: Show Gratitude. Be grateful for the people in your life, who have helped you. Be grateful to God. Be grateful for the things that make your life more enjoyable - just turn off your A/C for a few hours, in the Summer, and see how grateful you can be for a "thing."

That's the gist of what I said. This morning, I found the following article, which just seemed to resonate with this whole idea: Woman Dies, No One Notices for 8 YEARS. Can you imagine dying, and no one even noticing?

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