CLERGY CORNER: The heart of the matter

Posted on 19 September 2013 by LeslieM

Many people come to Yiskor Memorial Services with a mixture of emotion. They may still be grieving. They may be sad or angry over their loss, and, yet, they also long to find ways to honor the memory of their loved ones. Yiskor gives people a chance to do that.

Honoring memory has been on my mind a lot lately; after all, we recited the Yiskor Service on Yom Kippur and will do so again on Sukkoth. So, I have been focused on ways to create holy memories.

I know that many people are always looking for a huge miracle in their lives. Many are so busy watching for a big miracle that they seem to miss all the little miracles that occur on a daily basis. For instance, take the pumping of the human heart. This miraculous organ loyally does its rhythmic beating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether we are awake or asleep. Yet, how often do we take time to thank G-d for this miraculous organ?

Most of us don’t even give a thought to the beating of our heart until we experience severe palpitations; then, we take note. And how many of us take the time to thank G-d when those momentary palpitations stop and our heart goes back into normal sync?

What if the heart is not capable of going back into normal rhythm by itself? What then? Well, how many of us have thanked G-d for giving us the intellect and the ingenuity to create life-saving devices like a pacemaker or a defibrillator?

As you can see, I am focused on the heart so let me get to the heart of the matter pertaining to honoring our dearly departed.

In the past, anytime someone was going through the loss of a momma, a Yiddishe momma, one of the questions I would ask is if the momma had played Mahjong. The response was always accompanied by an immediate smile with a, “Yes, she did; she loved the game; in fact, I have her Mahjong set.”

And I would explain how it would honor their momma’s memory if, whenever they played the game, they used their momma’s set. And sure enough, each time they played using that set, they would remember the joy that that game gave to their momma, and they would realize how they were keeping that joy, her joy, alive.

But nowadays, when I ask about Mahjong, the response is usually, “Oh yes, momma played the game, but I don’t.” And, when I ask what they are going to do with momma’s Mahjong set, I am usually told that they plan to sell it on e-Bay.

And that’s when I try and get their heart in sync with honoring their momma’s memory. I suggest that, instead of selling the set, they take some of the tiles and have someone drill a hole in each one and put a chain through it making necklaces that can be given to every member of the family and to the friends who used to play Mahjong with their momma.

This gives something of sentimental value … something of heart that each of them can wear near their heart, and my prayer is that, each time they wear it, they should be filled with joyous memories.

And that is my wish for each of you, my dear readers. May you hold joyous memories of your dearly departed close to your heart.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains, He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice.

Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. We welcome you to join our warm and caring family for Shabbat and festival services. We’ll make your heart glow…who knows, you might even fall in love with Shul all over again.

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