I lost a friend Sunday night. Three days after receiving his second kidney transplant and telling his wife: “I love you”, he was called Home. I know there was plenty of rejoicing in Heaven yesterday…just as I know there will be lots of sadness expressed in my hometown over the next few days. Losing a teacher/preacher man is like that. It is just plain hard to say good-bye to one of the “good” guys – even when we know from Jewish tradition that good never ends – and all of Heaven is rejoicing and throwing a fantastic “Welcome Home” party in his honor.
I’ve led a blessed life that has allowed me to encounter a few teacher/preacher men and women. People who managed to stand on their faith everyday, no matter the circumstances swirling around them – no matter the confrontations that they had to endure because of their testimony. Reaching out and being able to teach others about the Love that surrounds us all – even when facing everyday challenges – is what sets a teacher/preacher apart from many others. They daily walk in the Light as He is in the Light, and they reflect His Love to all that are blessed enough to join them on that walk.
‘On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.’” — Leviticus 23:40
Tomorrow at sundown, the Jewish festival of Sukkot begins. It will also be the second blood moon that has fallen on a Jewish holiday this year. It is a time of great joy. A time to live in a temporary shelter so that they remember what it was like on the journey to the Promise Land and seek to create the trust that should live within them for Jehovah-Jireh. The New Year has just begun (Yom Kippur/Rosh Hashanah), and now it is time for each person to dedicate themselves and their lives to the One True God. They gather four species of plants that Sages say represent the body, wave them in all four directions of the world, and stand on their faith, letting David’s ancient words sing for all the world to hear. For a short moment in time, they become teacher/preachers and people are blessed by their words and actions.
“With every bone in my body, I will praise Him,” Ps 36:1
Words can be curses or blessings. The 9th commandment points this out rather succinctly. Most of us learned it: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Ex 20:13. Needless to say, most of us think of that this means just don’t lie about something someone else has done or not done. However, Jewish tradition applies this commandment to all sins that are done in the form of speech. Making fun of someone? Gossiping? Swearing falsely about anything? Leading someone away from the Light with your words? It is a basic reminder that we are to use our words as a blessing instead of a curse. A reminder to be a teacher/preacher with everything we say.
My friend was one of those people. His words were a blessing and a gift to our world. We will miss you, my friend, but I also know that your journey with the angels has just begun.