I attended a shiva minyan this week. As I reflected on the life of a member of our community, I started to reread email exchanges we had during the last year. As we approached Chanukah, the clergy sent an email reminding our community that each member would receive a gift at their doorstep before they lit the first candle.
This gentleman responded to my email with the message below.
“I do not need any gifts for Chanukah. What I would like to do is borrow some books from the library to use for my Torah study class. I do own a small library but it is not as large as I would like.”
As I stood before his family, I read that email and explained, “The true gift to us are the words he wrote to me.” We should only be so fortunate to comprehend the gift of our tradition, the gift of the words in a book, the gift of wisdom that we can receive each day with an open heart, an open mind, and open eyes.
The Israelites are in the midst of their travels in the desert. The Torah consistently repeats this phrase: Vayisu, vayahcanu…They travelled, and they encamped. We are known as a wandering people, sojourning from place to place. Yet, this nomadic journey has also been a blessing, permitting us to gather the gifts of the places we have been to the places we are, and from the places we are to the places that we will go.
The gift of our life is the journey that we take, and the journeys we take is the book that we write.
It may not be Chanukah in July, but there is always time for another book, another parsha, another taste of our Jewish wisdom.