Monday, June 24, 2013

Like an Epidemic of Deaths, Another Eulogy for My Mother

In on of the Matan courses I've been taking, the one about ספר במדבר, Sefer Bamidbar, The Book of Numbers taught by Atara Snowbell, we've mentioned the subject of how/when the generation of the Exodus died out.  A punishment for their sins, for supporting the ten tribal heads who discouraged the immediate entering of the Land of Israel after G-d performed the great miracle of freeing them from Egyptian slavery, was that their generation would have to die out before the Jewish People could finally enter.  There's a question I remember her asking or talking about.  Did everyone die about the same time, or was it spread out over the forty, or more exactly about thirty-eight years?

The Chumash, the first Five Books of the Bible which recounts the beginnings of Jewish and World History, from Creation until the death of Moshe, Moses.
Deuteronomy Chapter 34 דְּבָרִים
ד  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, זֹאת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר, לְזַרְעֲךָ, אֶתְּנֶנָּה; הֶרְאִיתִיךָ בְעֵינֶיךָ, וְשָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲבֹר. 4 And the LORD said unto him: 'This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying: I will give it unto thy seed; I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.'
ה  וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה, בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב--עַל-פִּי יְהוָה. 5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
There has been something strange going on among neighbors in Shiloh and among even other friends of mine.  For the past couple of months, it seems there always seems to be someone sitting shiva, sometimes even more than one at a time.  All of the people I know of who have died, died of natural death.  They didn't die in accidents or terror attacks.  There was no great drama involved with their deaths.  Their deaths had been expected.  All were ill, suffering.  When people ask me about my mother's death and I describe old age and physical deterioration, the accumulated cholesterol (like sludge) in the circulatory system and not waking up from sleep, so many people have similar stories about the recent death of their parents.

Yes, G-d controls coincidence the timing of life and death. Doesn't G-d have reasons?  Coincidence isn't random.

My mother lived longer than anyone in her family.  To reach the age of eighty-eight in her family, her parents and siblings, it's like living until one hundred and twenty one (121.)  Her younger sister by five years, my Aunt Natalie Rosenberg, died just a few months ago.  Only one other of their seven other siblings had passed her eightieth birthday, and if I'm not mistaken only one other even made it past seventy.

One thing many mentioned was that my mother was concerned about the importance of eating healthy food, whole wheat, fruits and vegetables and raw salads long before anyone else they knew.  It obviously made a big difference.  My mother had a very active life well into her eighties, but there's a limit how much we can improve our genetic make up.  My mother's long active life was a triumph over nature.

She loved museums and volunteered as a docent in the Nassau County Art Museum.  She had a special cane which could be opened into a chair, and that's how she got around when she needed to walk a lot.  She stuffed everything she could into her life until she could no longer control her mind and body.

One thing for sure.  She was a tough act to follow.

My parents and I at the NCSY
Ben Zakkai Honor Society Dinner when
I was inducted into the society.
Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet
Shirley Spiegelman
שפרה בת אברהם וחיה ריזיה
Shifra bat Avraham and Chaya Raisia
לעילוי נשמתה
Li'ilu'i Nishmata
May her Soul be Elevated

No comments: