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From the Rabbi - Words of the Spirit

Limnot yameinu. Let us know how to assess our days.

05/10/2016 10:18:21 PM

Limnot yameinu. Let us know how to assess our days.

It’s a good one to bring to mind at this time of year, even though it is not a passage particularly tied to the sefira/omer period, the time of counting the 7-times-7-plus-one days from Passover to Shavuot. I am drawn to this psalm, and its message, for other reasons this week, beyond the counting of the omer. Limnot is often translated as count,as in: teach us to count our day. Help us be aware of each moment, make us make them count.

We sing this psalm phrase during our Days of Awe services, at that time of year when matters of life and death, of counting up those times when we missed the mark, pledging to re-assess our choices, and our priorities, are at the core of our prayers and liturgies.

Though it is associated with repentance, we also come across Psalm 90 at funeral services, with its evocative phrases: you return a person to dust … truly, a thousand years are in your eyes like yesterday …at dawn, life blossoms and renews itself, at dusk it withers … years of our lifetime …

In a three day span this week I joined in celebrating two young people under the covenant of our people – one as a bat mitzvah and one at a brit milah; paid a hospital visit following a significant surgery; and attended the funeral of a colleague who was about to celebrate his retirement after serving his community for 40 years.

Rabbi Ron Aigen zihrono livraha (may his memory be for a blessing) had suffered a heart attack prior earlier this spring; his recovery enabled him to enjoy seders, delight in his new grandchild, and look forward to a big celebration of his career in June.

Of that moment of sensing something dire, he wrote to a colleague that he had been working on something at the computer about Mordecai Kaplan and Judaism, and wondered if it would be the last thing he wrote. It was not; he posted this blog post on April 13:

Since my heart attack last week, which came suddenly out of nowhere with ferocious speed and near-lethal results, my favourite prayer is “asher yatzar”:
“…who formed us with wisdom creating a myriad of ducts and vessels, and should but one of them rupture or become blocked it would be impossible to stand in Your presence. Praised are You who heals all flesh and does wondrously.”

We all take for granted the incredible intricacy of our bodies and the true wonder of human health—until we are shocked into acknowledging how fragile this thing called life really is. We are encouraged to be more mindful, more appreciative and grateful for what we have with daily blessings like asher yatzar …

How many of us get a chance to take stock in this way, and in doing so, offer such  wisdom as a legacy? Perhaps we could begin by allowing each simcha, each celebration, each encounter with the valleys and with the shadows to generate in us the capacity to return to the vital gift that is each moment, each day.

Limnot yameinu¸ let us know how to assess our days. In the counting of each day lies deep wisdom.

-Rabbi Liz


Previous posts from Words of the Spirit >>

Sun, 29 May 2016 21 Iyyar 5776