Today is the fourth day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This year I was given the honor of delivering the D’var Torah during the second day services; it’s a tradition at Temple Beth Jacob for a member of the congregation to be the guest speaker on the second day. A D’var Torah is a talk related to a portion of the Torah (first five books of the Jewish Bible), usually that week’s portion to be read during services, often including life lessons and commentary. A sermon, in other words.
Eric was deeply involved with Temple Beth Jacob, and had written five different D’var Torah commentaries over the years, for different occasions. I read them all, trying to plan what to say. It was wonderful to reconnect with Eric in that way, to remember his commitment to Judaism and to sustaining a strong Jewish community. I didn’t end up with a plan about how to focus my D’var Torah, but I did end up talking about the Yiddish saying, “One plans, God laughs,” and how planning can be laughable, in both a discouraging, and encouraging way. Because our plans often get interrupted by unfortunate events, but we also often end up in fortunate places without any planning on our parts.
My talk went well, and those at services on Tuesday were uniformly positive in responding to my talk (I talked a lot, also, about Eric, and David, and the twists and turns of life and death and moving on — I’d put the talk up here, but it’s too long for a blog post).
But best of all is the herons I’ve seen every day since the beginning of the New Year. Great Blue Herons were Eric’s favorite bird, and I see him when I see a heron. The last two mornings, out for my morning run, a heron has lifted out of the brook I was running past and slowly flapped its long wings to cruise along the course of the water. “Hey, Eric, Shana Tova,” I thought and heard Eric saying back to me, “Good job.”