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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Elul 25 - by Cantor Seth Warner

I have a photograph in my office of my father holding my son, Simon, his first grandchild.  I remember the moment that picture was taken, and my father looking at Simon’s newborn face said “There is such innocence and love in his little body.”

My dad was right.  The innocence, purity and love that we have as infants is fleeting from the moment we’re born.  Before long, Simon was independently eating Cheerios, stamping his feet when he wanted a toy, laughing hysterically at himself and even laughing at his parents.  The truth is, innocence and purity are luxuries that no one can afford for long – but I wonder how far from them do we have to wander?  How far is too far? 

I wonder how my sense of sarcasm and cynicism developed.  (Surely my father was in on the ground floor of that creation within me.)  I wonder why I get so frustrated with the person on the highway driving too slow for me to get where I want to go, or any other example of annoyance you want to insert here. I wonder where my sense of love of ends and my sense of hate begins. 

This Elul, I am reminded that I have tendencies both ways – for great love and for feelings of annoyance and abhorrence.  Elul reminds me to check that balance often and to make sure that the love side is shining brighter than any other. 

I know my dad saw the purity in Simon’s face.  I’m grateful that, at times, he was able to see the purity in mine, too.  When he didn’t, maybe it wasn’t about my face – it was about the lens through which he was looking.  His own sense of doubt, perhaps – his own cynicism. Maybe that’s where mine comes from.

Cantor Seth Warner

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