Tuesday, September 14, 2021

All Is Not Lost

We Return to The Stone: May we all be inscribed and sealed for life! 

ICYMI - Here is an inspired and strongly-delivered Rosh Hashanah sermon  - All Is Not Lost: We Return to The Stone - by the one and only Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, now the Senior Rabbi of New York's Central Synagogue.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl

Abq Jew knows - we all just sat through more than a few such sermons at our local shuls, just a few days ago. But Rabbi Buchdahl's (see November 2014's Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl) Rosh Hashanah 5782 sermon is really, really good.

Her topic is - at least, on the surface - returning lost objects. 

A topic near and dear to Abq Jew's neshama. That's because - many years ago, when Abq Jew first began to study Talmud (at the Jewish Theological Seminary), one of the first chapters he learned was Eilu Metzios, the second chapter of the tractate Bava Metzia.

Eilu Metzios (or, as we said at the Seminary, Eilu Metziot) deals with found objects. And that's important. Because people lose things all the time. Sometimes people even find lost things. And then what?

Claim Stone

The Torah, of course, tells us that we must return a found lost object to its owner. But ... under all circumstances? In every case? What if we don't know who the owner is? What are we supposed to do then?

Eilu Metzios (28b) tells us:

ת"ר אבן טוען היתה בירושלים כל מי שאבדה לו אבידה נפנה לשם וכל מי  שמוצא אבידה נפנה לשם זה עומד ומכריז וזה עומד ונותן סימנין ונוטלה וזו היא ששנינו צאו וראו אם נמחת אבן הטוען

The Sages taught in a baraita: There was a Claimant’s Stone in Jerusalem, and anyone who lost an item would be directed there and anyone who found a lost item would be directed there. This finder would stand and proclaim his find and that owner would stand and provide its distinguishing marks and take the item. And that is the place about which we learned in a mishna (Ta’anit 19a): Go and see if the Claimant’s Stone has been obscured by the rising water.

Abq Jew would be remiss if he did not point out that ... we don't have to go to the Jewish Theological Seminary, or Yeshiva University, or, in fact, any yeshiva or any university, in order to study Talmud. Thanks to Al Gore (Gorelick? Gorevich?) - and, these days, to Sefaria - it's all on the Internet.

Stone of Claims

And Abq Jew would be remiss if he did not point out that ... back in 2015, there were reports that archaeologists had found the Even HaToen, the Claimant's Stone - what Rabbi Buchdahl calls the Stone of Lost Objects - right where it's supposed to be, in beautiful downtown Jerusalem.

But all of us have lost something more during this year-and-a-half of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rabbi Buchdahl discusses, poignantly, these many losses and how we can return from them.

Click here to view the video.
Click here to view the transcript.
But know that Rabbi Buchdahl's delivery is everything.

When we sing our Mishebeirach healing prayer,
we call out the names of those who have lost--
their health, their mobility, their hope.
and we pray together for it to be restored.

When we say the Kaddish,
mourners and those observing a yahrzeit stand first
and silently announce to our community:
I have lost.

My spouse. My sister. My friend.

What do we do when we stand at the Stone with people
who are missing something that cannot come back?
Death is so severe in its finality.
Our obligation then, becomes to keep the mourner from yeush,
from sinking wholly into despair.
While we cannot restore for them, a life,
we can sit with them. We can weep with them.
We can tell stories.
And we help them find a glimmer of an easier day--
that all is not totally lost.

Yom Kippur

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