Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Seraphic Vision

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Seraphic Vision

As the moon crescents
in the night sky
And the stars wink
up above
Hashem’s evening majesty
is revealed.

And closer to home
you, with your dark eyes,
that familiar, warm, nut-brown shade,
remain deep in prayer, immersed in learning,
wearing your cloak of piety
wrapped lovingly around you
and worn proudly
like a family heirloom passed down through the generations.

You, with the gentle yet impassioned soul.
Proud like a lion – Ari – but humble in your manner.
With one purpose: to serve family and Hashem.

Your bright eyes are inquisitive; they also smile behind their seriousness
because they know the secrets of the angels,
the first order of angels who sit by the majestic throne of Hashem
serving his needs, coming to his aid.

You, like the seraphim, meet the needs of others.
It is you who answers the questions, but doesn’t ask them.
You, who seeks to share your knowledge, your wisdom,
ready to impart all with others.
It is you who comforts like a father
when you are but only a child.

It is you who brings meaning to life -- to Chaim.
It is you who breathes life into words, helping to shape them into tangible ideas,
ideas, that, too, will carry through the generations.

Avarechicha – and I will bless you.
V’yishmerecha – and I will keep you.


These words, this poem was written by me in January. I submitted it to the Passover literary supplement of our community Jewish newspaper, and it was accepted and published just last week.

A friend of mine loved the poem but did not know what to make of it. She thought it was a love poem I'd written for my husband. I gave the explanation to her, as I'm giving to you.

This poem was written with Ariel Chaim Avrech, z"l, in mind. I did not know this young man, I never met this young man, I'd never even heard of this young man until last October. But then I started to read about him, started to learn about all he'd possessed, all he'd represented and all he'd been capable of. And I began to know him.

You, too, can get to know Ariel. You can read his father, Robert J. Avrech's moving blog, with interjective comments from his mother, Karen. His parents keep memories of their son strong, alive, giving him chaim, not only in their hearts, but on their computer screen, for all the world to see. I hope you'll take a moment to see...and learn...and know.

Chassidic Masters Tell All

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At the second seder, the one that my husband and I hosted in our home, we distributed mainly the same Haggadot, so people would have an easy time to follow, whether they were more comfortable reading Hebrew or English. I, however, chose to be different and used an ArtScroll Mesorah Series Haggadah called Haggadah of the Chassidic Masters -- it had been a gift to me from an aunt many years ago, and is a most lovely Haggadah to use.

The book jacket says: "...This is a book to be savored at the seder and at all times of the year.... It is filled with penetrating and exciting ideas, insights, into life and destiny, stories that make one think about his mission and his role as part of a family, a town, a nation..."

In between keeping my eye on the children, keeping my eye on the children handling the crystal wine glasses, I was reading along in the Haggadah, my eyes straying every now and again to a Chassidic story written in English. This particular one drew my attention:

When Rebbe Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov passed away, Rebbe Sar Shalom of Belz sighed and said, "What a pity! We have lost an upright Jew." ("ehrlicher Yid")
"An upright Jew only?" exclaimed his wife. "He was among the greatest rebbes of our age."
"Rebbes we have in plenty," replied her husband, "but upright Jews are few and far between."

Unfortunately, there were countless upright Jews missing from family seders throughout this city and farther abroad -- tragedies and illnesses had taken them, some too fast, others too soon, some too young -- and their presence was strongly missed. In these families, when the seder called for leaning, no doubt family members leaned just a little more, leaning on and supporting each other in the shadow of their sorrow and melancholy.

It is my hope that some kind of seder -- order -- can eventually be brought back into these families' lives and that the chair that sits empty now, symbolizing the missing family member, will be looked at not just with great pain, but in time with pure reverence, because of the memories associated with the"ehrlicher Yid" it belonged to.