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Yom Kippur: The Delicate Dance Between Life & Death

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Inherent in a rabbi’s job description is to provide pastoral care for those whose lives are at coming to an end. It is a solemn duty to attend to such people and their families, already left vulnerable to the twin elements of fear and grief. While it is never joyful to be with someone as they exhale their final breaths, there is a certain spiritual, empathetic calm that manifests itself, as if this moment is the most important in one’s entire life.

In this last year, such a transcendent moment like this happened to me. She was a friend, a mentor, and a community role model. She gave time and resources to causes that improved and enriched the cultural landscape. But as I knelt down at her deathbed, the near-centenarian whispered something in my ear: “You’re a beautiful man.” It seemed to be a counterintuitive statement. Why would this person, who lived such a long, full life that was rapidly ending, take the time to compliment me? Considering her statement, I realized that it wasn’t about me at all. Rather, she used her dying moments to try to elevate another; a final truly selfless act.

This year has been filled with many selfless acts, acts of courage and kindness in the face of a pernicious virus that affects Black and Latinx populations, among others, with impunity. But as we look at the statistics—21 million people infected, over 200,000 Americans dead and more than 800,000 dead around the world—the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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