Monday, April 06, 2009

There Goes the Sun; Birkhas haKhamah and Existential Angst

By the Bray of Fundie

Imagine (or recall) how a twelve year old boy eagerly looks forward to wrapping T’filin for the first time; or a novice in Yeshiva pushes himself and studies diligently to complete his first Mesikhta. L’havdil, in the realm of the mundane, imagine (or recall) how a weekend warrior trains for his /her first 10K or marathon race or a recent real estate licensee goes to contract on the first house that they’ve sold.

We all savor the personal, professional, intellectual and spiritual “firsts” in our lives. These breakthroughs proffer the dimension of pleasure unique to novelty and freshness and represent growth, progress and self-actualization. For Jews in particular it evokes the Qedushas Reishis= the sanctity of Primogeniture/ "firstness" that we acquired during the slaying of the firstborn/exodus from Egypt.

But how many of us young enough to blog and in reasonably good health ever stop to consider the “lasts” of our lives? The last Shabbos? The last time we embrace a child or a spouse? And, most devastating of all, the "last" that vanquishes all further "firsts" ...our very last “last”...our last breath?

Twenty eight years ago I pronounced Birkas haKhama for the first time. This coming Wednesday, Please G-d, I will do so again. But based on my age, obesity and family medical history, in all likelihood, it will be for the last time. If I even live another 28 years it is a long shot that I will still be of sound enough mind and body to celebrate the suns next coming with my co-religionists.

Call me a nonconformist or, better yet, a misfit, but the fanfare surrounding this rarest of brakhos, it’s novelty and lack of rote, fill me with foreboding and anxiety not with anticipation and enthusiasm. Come Wednesday, as those around me open themselves to the light and warmth of the “first” sun, I will be filled with apprehension of the darkness and chill of my inevitable grave. In spite of my braying fundamentalism, my obsession with my own Jewishness, my self-definition so identified with my non-Goyishkeit, on the Eve of this Passover I will identify with an ancient Egyptian during the Plague of Darkness, paralyzed by the shadows as the Jews around me celebrate the light.

Qedusha -Havdala...have you had yours today?

Celebrate Passover 2009 with Magnificent Passover Gift Baskets from Oh Nuts.

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