Ever since we got back from Colorado last Sunday, my right ear has been completely stuffed. I can still sort of hear out of it, but when I talk, I feel like I am in an aquarium. It’s been quite annoying this past week, but tonight, I noticed something very different about this stuffed ear syndrome that brought some interesting meaning.
This past Shabbat’s Torah portion included the Sh’ma – Hear (Listen) Israel, ADONAI is our God, ADONAI is One. This is the watchword of our faith as Jews. We say it when we wake up, we say it when we’re going to bed. It get’s it’s own page in the prayerbook. And when we say this prayer, we are encouraged to close our eyes in order to remove the distractions we see with our eyes and truly listen to these important words.
Tonight, at services in the beauty of the Camp Hess Kramer chapel, surrounded by the large trees and plants, I closed my eyes preparing to say the Sh’ma, when I heard something quite different. This time, I heard my own voice inside my body. Rather than having my voice commingle with all the other voices, I heard my own voice singing the Sh’ma, calling me to listen to my self and hear these words in my voice. Tonight, it was a call not just to all of us as a community to listen, this was a call to me that I have to take the time and listen for God’s voice in the world.
Last summer, during my time at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu, I told a story during Shabbat about a rabbi who loved to be out in nature and found himself getting lost, being found by some bandits, learning a nigun (a tune with no words) from them and having to take it back to teach to others because it was too great to forget. During the story, as I was talking about all the amazing things the rabbi saw in nature, two deer just happened to literally jump into the middle of the outdoor chapel. The campers were amazed, as was I. After the deer took their leave of us, I continued the story, including teaching the camp the nigun.
For the rest of my time up at camp, the campers sang the nigun and talked about the deer. I later learned that I was nicknamed the “Deer Whisperer!” It was a great honor to have such an experience with the campers last summer – so much so, that I even used it in one of my Rosh Hashanah Sermon. But I never really realized what kind of impact the whole experience had on the campers.
Today, after Matt and I dropped off DovLev for her camp experience, Matt, JediYeled and I headed to Camp Hess Kramer. Upon our arrival, campers and staff alike, were approaching me and telling me how great last summer’s story was and how excited they were to see me. Some came up seeing the nigun, others told me about how incredible it was for them to have the deer in the service. Another told me about her morning run and seeing some deer along her route and realizing how incredible the world is all around her.
It’s amazing to think how one little story, one nigun and two deer can impact the lives of a lot of incredible youth and adults alike. It’s a reminder that what we do and what we say will be remembered for a long time. Therefore, we must take advantage of the moments that we have to say something, do something, or just be someone that will inspire another.
I don’t know what it is about our vacations to Colorado, but I feel horrible for the great family who watches JediYeled’s fish and DovLev’s hamster. So far, the hamster is fairing well. Although I did warn the wonderful family that he was getting up there in age – three years old! But JediYeled’s fish seems to not have as good of luck. This is the second year in the row that we have had to break the bad news to JediYeled that his fish has died.
Last year, when Anakin passed, the wonderful family gave him a dignified burial at sea. But this year, for Rexi, JediYeled wanted to make sure that he could bury him in the backyard – next to DovLev’s fishes that we killed…I mean died while she was at camp.
After retrieving Rexi from the wonderful family’s freezer (right next to the Chanukah candles), we brought him home and immediately found Rexi’s final resting spot – next to the rubber tree plant and JediYeled’s orange tree. JediYeled started to dig a hole in the shape of a fish and even let DovLev dig part as well since she did not get to bury her fish last year.
We then gently shook…I mean placed Rexi into the earth and JediYeled covered him up. Then we stood together being grateful that JediYeled had such a wonderful fish for this past year. JediYeled then looked up to me and said, “Ima, we have to say kaddish.”
What do you say? Yes, of course. So, together we said kaddish, after all, we are grateful that God created such wonderful creatures to fill our world. And I am grateful I have two children who care so much about the world and all those who live in it.
We are in the middle of the northern Arizona desert when DovLev discovers that she has left her ipod at home! Right as we were leaving, she took everything out of her bag, rearranged it, and then put everything back. But we have discovered that both her camera and ipod are not in the bag.
DovLev: “Why is it that the one time that we don’t turn around because we forgot something, we forgot something and it’s my stuff!!!”
Yep, we made it out of the house and out of the neighborhood without actually turning around. And now, in the middle of the desert, DovLev is sitting on the side of the road VERY upset that she does not have her ipod.
The lesson which fortunately we followed: Make sure to always load up every other ipod with children’s mp3 music. So now, while she may have to use the Grandpa ipod, at least she has her music! And as we are back in the car heading north once again, she sings out: obla-di, obla-da, life goes on, bra, la, la, la, la life goes on! Whew!