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Investing in Eternity

Wednesday, 6 May, 2020 - 11:50 am


My grandparents have never celebrated a Passover Seder alone. Each year found them surrounded -thank G-d – by their children, then grandchildren, and soon after by great-grandchildren. This Passover- with all the COVID restrictions- was the first. The thought of Bubby and Zaidy celebrating the Seders alone from an apartment across the street from my parents, left us children and grandchildren feeling like we needed to do something to brighten their holiday.

Through collaboration and team effort, we were able to put together a gorgeous “Haggadah Accompaniment” filled with pictures of their over 50 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren enacting the different steps of the Seder. We included humorous memories and meaningful anecdotes from our past Seders together.

Then, at the point in the Seder when the Ma Nishtana (The 4 Questions) are recited, my brothers came over from across the street and stood by my grandparents open apartment window as they asked the 4 Questions to their dear Bubby and Zaidy through the window. My grandparents’ Seders were thereby uplifted and brightened in a profound way.
I have a dear friend, older than me, who waited many years to get married. As a religious Jewish girl, this was especially difficult. Most of her friends were married in their early twenties, leaving a big void in her life. In what could have been a period of feeling understandably very sorry for herself and unmotivated to connect with friends who were living the life she so yearned for, I watched in awe as her joy and love for her friends only grew. She genuinely and wholeheartedly joined in each of their Simchas; she was there to help, hug, and share in the joy as her friends got married, gave birth, and celebrated each of their kids’ milestones.

Well thank G-d she did get married! The joy of her family and friends knew no bounds. That is, until about a month ago, when her husband contracted COVID-19 and had to be placed in the ICU in critical condition. Now her family and friends, to whom she had been so loyal and connected throughout her many lonely and difficult years, rallied behind her. We prayed, we took on new Mitzvahs, we encouraged and supported her in every way possible. We tried to envelop her in the cloud of love that she had shown to each of us. And thank G-d, with the help of the Merciful and Compassionate One Above, her husbands condition has improved. May he have a speedy and complete recovery.
One of Chabad of Cary’s larger donors has generously supported us over the course of the last ten years. As the owner of a small start-up, a successful one, yet fraught with risk and financial challenges, I would often ask him how he so joyfully kept up his generous donations even during challenging times. Without hesitating, he replied: ‘I am well aware that while I have seen much success in many areas of my business thank G-d, I can just as easily lose it all tomorrow. But the Tzedakah (charity) I give, will never be lost. It has been bound with a Mitzvah; bound to that which is lasting and eternal.”

Well, he did lose a lot of his business in the recent COVID -provoked economic downturn. And he is as happy as can be. Because in truth, he did not really lose everything. He invested in that which is lasting and eternal. Nothing and no one can take that away from him.
3 COVID stories.

3 individuals in my close circle, who were negatively affected by COVID.

Yet, their blow was cushioned. At those trying moments in time, they found themselves enveloped by the authentic love, security, and inner peace that only a connection to that which is eternal can offer.

I have been contemplating the source of that cushion. In what merit it was there for them when they needed it most.

I’ve concluded that each of them had expended time and effort to acquire the gift of foresight.

I view “Foresight” as a special gift. We are sometimes afforded the unique ability to look at our lives from the vantage point of “Hindsight”-with all the wisdom contained therein- yet with the chronological positioning to be able to let that wisdom influence the choices we make today. To let that wisdom inform and shape the way we live our lives in the present.

These individuals did just that. They did not just live in the here and now. Rather, they made themselves cognizant of life’s fragility. They contemplated the temporal nature of this physical world. They distinguished between the “stuff” of life that is finite and fleeting, and that which is everlasting: relationships with family, friends, G-d and His Holy Torah.

And they invested in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. At times when it was excruciatingly difficult.

I witnessed all that my grandparents invested, often more than they had, to nurture their large family. And now, their family enveloped them in love as they navigated what could have been a very lonely Passover.

I witnessed my friend invest in her loved ones, giving and caring from a place of authentic love, despite the gaping void within her. And now, her friends enveloped her in love, prayer, and support as she navigated the life threatening illness of her husband.

And I witnessed our dear Chabad donor invest in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah even at a time when he was struggling to pay his own bills. And now, his Mitzvah enveloped him in the security and inner peace of knowing that all was not lost, and with the belief that his Mitzvah would only serve as a vessel for future business success.

These individuals created dozens and dozens of eternal moments in an otherwise temporary existence. And a bond with the eternal is… ETERNAL! It is there in the form of love, connection, security, and inner peace here in this world, often during our most challenging moments, and continues with us into the Next World, after we shed our earthly existence.

I too hope and pray for the ability to live with a little more Foresight in my life. To take to heart the lessons I have learned from these role models. Because to invest in family, friends, Mitzvahs, and Torah study is to plant seeds that will continue to bear fruit for eternity. I hope to ask myself a new question from time to time: “What percentage of your life, Chana, is eternal?” And I hope that the number with which I respond, continues to increase in size over time.

Feel free to join me on this journey😊.


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