Thursday, 23 June 2016

The fragility of the gift of Life


Unlike Hebrew, English has two words to express the idea “providence” ( (גורל They are “fate” and “destiny.” One of my English students once asked me if there is a difference between the two. I suppose there is.
Fate, I believe, is controlled by forces that reside outside of us. These powerful dynamisms lay beyond our control and determine when we enter this world and when we leave it. They also govern certain events in our life. Destiny, on the other hand, is the powerful force that rests within us, one which allows us control our choices, regulate and shape them and our life’s trials as optimally as we can. It is the valve that can help us achieve the most out of the gift our lives.

And Life is a gift,
not to be taken for granted. It is a gift to be valued and to be enjoyed. Even our wonderful Jewish tradition teaches us to be grateful for that. It is for that reason that a Jew is commanded to repeat daily the following blessing upon waking up in the morning: “מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים, שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.” (Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayom Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati
Bechemla Raba Emunatecha
I offer thanks to You,living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.)

Every day, we are retold of the need to be thankful for it. Every day, we collect indications that tomorrow is never guaranteed, never promised. A few days ago, we commemorated the untimely death of Channah Sharvit of blessed memory, Moshe’s late wife. Stories of unfortunate deaths which cross our life’s path are a constant reminder of the need to celebrate life and highlight those beautiful moments that no money can buy.

Last night, Moshe and I had, yet, another aide-memoire of this very essential calling. This one came in the form of a movie entitled, “Me Before You.” It was a loud wake - up call about the uncertainties that are strewn around every corner of our life’s journey. And there are so many of those.
The movie recounts the life of a young man whose existence has changed overnight following a serious accident that befell him. From a vivacious, talented and successful fellow, he became wheelchair bound and dependent on others. He lost his joi de vivre and any hope for a fulfilling future. A beautiful young care giver walks into his life and toils hard to fill it with exciting and rewarding experiences. Although the young man regains some of his joys of life, he eventually chooses to end his life but not before he bequeaths upon his caregiver the legacy which he himself was deprived of. His tragedy became her learning curve and the fulfillment of his wish for her and others.

That movie brought to mind another movie which I had seen years ago. It is called “The Eighth Day.” The story is about a workaholic businessman who spent hours over hours in the office. He neglected his wife and two beautiful daughters only to see his family falling apart. After separating from his wife, the man met a young man with down syndrome by the name of George. George was a simple man but he had the most important slices of life. He had love, he had joy and he had hope. He taught his friend these values. Eventually, the man was reunited with his family and lived happily ever after. In time, George passed away. As the angels were carrying his soul to heaven, a voice read the first chapter of Breesheet (Genesis), the story of creation. There was one extra verse added to it, though. It said, “And on the seventh Day G-d rested. He looked at His creation and asked Himself, ‘What is missing in my world?’”

“So, on the Eighth Day,” the voice continues, “He created George.”

G-d created a George for each and every one of us. Let us internalize his lesson. Let us take our destiny in our own hands and enjoy the gift we are each given by Fate. Let us celebrate it and bask in its glory. One day, Fate will take it back.

No comments:

Post a Comment