Chasing Peace

For those wanting to access a copy of the KE Rosh Hashanah Prayer Book it is accessible here: http://bit.ly/Y4jV3x 

 

I received two emails yesterday, the next to last day of the year 5774 in Jewish Time. One was from a man who was in class with me for a very brief time some six years ago. He wished me a Happy New Year and let me know that he enjoyed last week’s blog and many others; I did not know he was on our active mailing list, let alone that he read the KE blog.

 

A lesson: A small thank you can lift someone’s spirit. Practice communicating your thanks for the little and big things—even if it years later. I let the man know he lifted my spirits.

 

The other email was from a man I have written about before in this blog spot in the context of “people from your past” (three people who asked to visit or connect with me from my past history in Philadelphia). He was my running partner. He is now reading this blog (I didn’t know that either) and wanted me to know that we shared another thing in common—we were both born in Atlantic City. In my years running with him this never came up. He read the blog last week in which I mentioned that one of my earliest memories was standing in front of a toy store window on the Boardwalk and looking at elaborate displays of stuffed jungle animals. It is such a vivid memory that I have never doubted that I experienced it.

 

Then came the following confirmation:

 

“Here’s a bit of trivia to fill in one of those missing links–the toy store with the stuffed animals: Taber’s Toyland. My Dad (who moved to Atlantic City in 1944), had one of his first jobs there. Growing up I was friendly with the Taber daughter. I usually see her at synagogue when I visit my folks around this time of year.”

 

I googled Taber Toyland Atlantic City and up came a photo of the toy store on the Boardwalk. Not “just as I remember it” but familiar nevertheless.

 

Lesson: Life is all about the connections we make. We are interconnected in ways that we have little to no idea about—until the moment arises when we discover it.

 

Rosh Hashanah brings memories of my father from his pulpit in Atlantic City and then in New York. At his funeral I lamented that the world had lost its finest shofar blower (among other finest qualities). When my father blew the Shofar the blasts fulfilled the intention of its’ sound penetrating the heart. My Dad was a powerful man, with a vice grip and yet, very gentle hands that also communicated his gentleness.

 

Our family decided to place on my Dad’s gravestone these four words: Loving Peace and Seeking Peace (it is a quote that describes the High Priest Aharon, in Hebrew: Ohev Shalom, ve-Rodef Shalom). What is the difference between one who loves peace and one who pursues peace? The pursuer of peace has to be willing to challenge things, to get into the mess in order to negotiate the peace. It takes courage to enter the fray, to ruffle, and make uncomfortable. Always ask though what is my intention? Is it peace? Then pursue it.

 

Lesson for the coming year: We need to be intentional about pursuing peace—and to fully capture this the Hebrew word Rodef, though translated pursue, more literally means, “to chase after.” Chase after peace, chase after valuing connections, chase after thanking others.