Sunday, May 23, 2004

Remembrance of a Shabbos Past

The arrival of Shabbos is a time of awe and delight for observant Jews. The Kabbalists in Safed used to dress in white and singing with joy they would greet the Sabbath Bride in the mountains. Here in Pico Robertson, we too greet the Sabbath albeit with a less romantic gesture. The Sabbath is a time when the ordinary burdens of the work week are left behind and time becomes consecrated. Every man becomes a king in his home and every woman a queen. When Ariel was alive he would spend a great deal of time preparing for Shabbos. He put on his best suit and hat saying: Would you meet with a president or a king dressed as a schlump? It was something of a running joke in the house that Ariel, no matter how early he started, was almost always late. By the time I was ready to go to shul, Ariel was still awkwardly struggling with his cuff links, or wrestling with his tie, trying to get the knot just right. Ariel moved slowly. His weakened lungs made it so, but it was also the pace at which he moved through life. Slow, deliberate, thoughtful. Ariel moved like a man from another century. None of the frenzied 21st century movements for Ariel. He was like a man from a slower time; no doubt he would have been entirely comfortable in medieval Europe, in the Yeshivas of Provence, studying in the house of Rashi. That was his temperment. Ariel and I walked to shul together, three short blocks that are as familiar to me as the architecture of my wife's lovely face. We waved to the other men on their way to the various shuls. We said hello to strangers walking their dogs. Sometimes we talked, but often there was a companionable silence. Ariel was preparing to pray, adjusting his state of mind for a holy dialogue. In shul, Ariel was often asked to daven for the minyan. He had a beautiful voice and his pronunciation of the Hebrew was perfect. Often, Ariel was the last to finish davening. Here too, he took his time. He spoke to God: a true I and Thou relationship. Frequently, I had to wait for him to finish davening. Everyone else was already gone, on their way home, but Ariel was still shuckling, eyes closed, totally unaware that we were the only two left in shul. I sat and watched him daven and said to myself: How did this saintly young man spring from my loins? How did this happen for I am less than good, far from pious, never close to God; just another struggling schlemiel. I watched Ariel daven in the empty shul and I remembered when I was a child in Brooklyn, in shul with my father. I gazed in awe as he davened. I felt that here was a man in touch with something I could not even glimpse. And so, I am watching Ariel, I am watching my father, past and present merging and I say to myself: Let this moment never end Let this moment never end Let this moment never end...


Blogger LukeFord said...

I'm reading Maurice Lamm's new book, CONSOLATION.

May 23, 2004 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Jackie D said...


May 23, 2004 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have waited a long time for someone to match C.S. Lewis and his A Grief Observed. You have surpassed him with only a few posts. Thank you for letting us in to both you and your son's life. This is a wonderful blog.

June 1, 2004 at 10:19 PM  

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