Bonnie Meadow, our beloved tutor, shared these words with me as a comment from my previous post. My thought is that her reflection warrants a post of its own. Thank you, Bonnie.
Toldot will always be connected to Maya for me, as Beshalach will be connected to you, Elise. What a profound privilege it was for me to work with both of you, from Aleph-Bet, to the stories of Genesis, to Jewish and Hebrew concepts we discussed, and finally to the specific work of preparing for the B’nei Mitzvah.
When we were learning to read Hebrew, Maya danced circles around you, her young and quick mind a constant reminder to you of loss of nimbleness we experience as aging learners. But she would correct you with a loving smile, wait for you to catch up with patience and understanding belying her years, and help you practice the V’Ahavtah and other blessings.
A bond was formed between us that is unbreakable, eternal. I know that my link in that bond has allowed me to serve in a particular role in sustaining you, Elise, and for this I am forever grateful.
The year following her Bat Mitzvah I asked Maya if she would be willing to read a few lines of Torah for the Rosh Hashanah service, as I had taken on the role of seeing that the readings were all covered. Her answer was that she would do it if I needed her. In other words it wasn’t something she really wanted to take on (for readers of this blog: we use a different set of chanting melodies on the High Holidays, so it is not a simple task even for those who have already chanted from Torah) but for me she would do it. I got back to her after I had tried to assign verses to everyone I had access to, and told Maya I needed her. She readily replied that she would do it – if I helped. Well, of course I welcomed one more chance to go to the home where I had taught both Maya and Elise for a couple of years, to work with Maya on those verses. As was our routine, Maya made me a cup of Bengal Spice tea, also now eternally connected to her, and we went to work.
Like the trooper she was, Maya stood next to me at the Torah that Rosh Hashanah and chanted like a champion. I don’t know which of us appreciated that the other was at our side more…Once again, I beamed with pride at my student’s accomplishment. I did not know that day would be the last time I was to be with Maya in life. I recall it each year on Rosh Hashanah, and Elise honored that moment last year when she chanted those same verses by my side on the holiday.
Selfless, selfish- inseparable opposites, as – it seems – are the many opposites we need to somehow hold inside us at once: our grief at our loss of this beautiful joy of a person, and our love and appreciation for all the gifts that she continues somehow to give us…It’s the Balance of Things, isn’t it?
More love than I can express,
Again, thank you, Bonnie, in more ways than I can express.
And a quick P.S. I chanted again that very passage during Rosh Hashana, this year, under a different “tent” with the Kol Hai community. This year, I added the line that I could not chant last year. One translation is, “and Abraham was grieving greatly, the loss of his son.” As I said in my last entry, we don’t find the Torah passages, they find us.