Celebrating My Birth 60 Years Later


Dear Simon,

Although some time has passed since you came to speak in our community, your words and physical presence have remained in my heart. I was very grateful for the opportunity to meet you and be able to integrate a new dimension of meaning to an already meaningful book. Yes, I had hoped to visit even more that evening; however, it gave me great pleasure to see so many people lined up behind me – other souls longing for a connection with you. I hope the evening and visit to our area was fulfilling for you as well.

There is a chapter in your book that I am pondering. It is the chapter  entitled “Birth” and it is one I have read several times.

Mostly, I have turned to it to integrate the meaning of the gift of life – a new baby being born – the soul entering the body – the miraculous moment of my grandaughter’s birth – the note of welcome I write before I attend a bris – my partnership with the A-mighty in the creation of our two daughters.  Always I have found words of wisdom.

This week I read it with my own birth in my heart. I will celebrate my 59th birthday next week, on December 31st. Yes, it’s the same night that many will be celebrating the millenium (or as my brother says…”mileenium, melenium, malloniumm??? What are they all talking about? Y2K? Perhaps we can find an herbal remedy?”) This year, and next year when I turn 60 , seems to feel especially challenging to me, full of urgency, learning, questioning, growing and – especially full of vulnerability. I am challenged by this chapter – in your book and in my life – by the questions: ” How great is the disparity between what I have accomplished and what I can accomplish? Am I spending my time properly or am I involved in things that distract me from my higher calling? How can I strengthen the thread that connects my outer life and my inner life?”  (That last one is the big one for me). So, here I am, reading your chapter for the first time, because now I am being born.

“There is no better way to celebrate a birthday than to commit a special act of goodness.”

I will ponder this expression of gratitude for being born and alive, and pray that my expression will be worthy. I was inspired to write, and then share a personal expression on the eve of last Shabbos, my birthday, and the millenium:

Tonight I am truly blessed. Tonight I celebrate my birthday – at 7 PM I turn 59…but really, then again it is the start of my 60th year of life…but doesn’t that sound similar to the millennium debate…does it come this year, or as some say, shouldn’t it be celebrated next year? One thing we do know…there is a celebration in the air.

I have spent a good part of this year – my 59th year -celebrating, simply celebrating the miracle and significance of my birth. I have learned that my birth means that I am G-d’s child – Batya – daughter of G-d. My birth is G-d’s way of saying he has invested His will and energy in creating me and that He has given me a unique mission…and that He wants me to pay attention and listen to the special messages He continues to send. And, you know, something special does happen on my birthday each year. The same energy that G-d invested in me at birth, well, it feels present once again. I am learning how to be receptive to that energy – to listen to His messages and to celebrate my birth and the joy of Him in my daily life. I continue to ask and to struggle through the important questions about my unique mission. I especially wonder how can I strengthen the fragile thread that connects my outer life and my inner life. My physical world connecting to my spiritual world.

Tonight Hashem has blessed me with greater clarity. The message tonight is about those fragile threads, or strings or connections. They are embodied tonight as they are every Shabbos in the string or wick of our Shabbos candles. When I fulfill the special mitzvah of lighting the Shabbos candles shortly before sunset, together with Jewish women all over the world, I see the wick light into a flame – glowing, dancing, reaching upward to touch and connect with something higher, and richer and deeper. That candle lighting moment is the magical mystical time when the Divine Presence is closer and more intimate and more reachable. It is a moment of such unique opportunity for insight, growth, inspiration and a deepening of connection to G-d. And that flame, I know now, is my soul, my spiritual self, reaching and soaring upward, while the wick, the string, connects me through the candle supported in the candlestick, it is my physical self grounded in the physical world -connecting my inner and outer world Now that’s worth counting the moments toward and watching the clock to capture the cosmic moment as the sun goes down. Tonight, I will celebrate the countdown until midnight, I will celebrate my birthday…But Shabbos with its rush of preparations to be ready to light before sunset… to be ready to illuminate the world with the light of our souls, to draw down the Divine Presence into the sanctuary of our homes… now that’s worth counting the moments toward, and that’s a message worth paying attention to.

Thank you for your guidance and your connection.



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