I shared the following with the members of Ramat Shalom this week:

In no time at all, we will be celebrating one of the most joyful times in Judaism: PURIM. If you can remember, I referred to PURIM during my High Holiday sermon, saying that the majority of synagogue-going Jews attend services for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur – services which tend to be long, serious, intense and filled with a lot of liturgy that makes us explore our shortcomings. The majority of synagogue-going Jews do not attend services and events during the rest of year. Because of this, most Jews never get a chance to experience the incredibly joyful moments – moments like PURIM! Please make an effort to join us for our PURIM events on February 27th and 28th. It is a time of laughter, celebration, games, good food and drink, and costumes. Please don’t miss it.
As we get ready for PURIM and all the joy that leads up to it, I am reminded of the powerful words Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Pshischa shared with his students:

“Write two truths on two separate notes. Let one state the teaching of our Sages, ‘For my sake the world was created.’ The other should spell the verse uttered by our forefather Avraham: ‘I am dust and ashes.’ Now place these two notes into your pockets. When you are feeling useless, take out the note that states that ‘the world was created for you.’ But if your achievements engender self-arrogance, take out the second note and remember that you are but ‘dust and ashes.'”

As Jews, our history has taught us that the good times can quickly depart and be replaced by darker days. We need to hold on to the happy times – but we must never allow the good times to shelter us from the humbling reality that all might change tomorrow. And we must never be unprepared for the challenges tomorrow might hold.

This being said, I want to take this opportunity to share with you an article I have been working on that offers guidance on how to prepare for and cope with the death of a loved one. This is certainly not a happy topic. Death is not something any of us want to talk about, let alone plan for. Rather, we would like to celebrate the happy occasions – like PURIM! Certainly, we pray that our lives are filled with life, health, and joy. But, as the words of Rabbi Bunim remind us – we should never be so bold as to assume that we are immune to the pains of life.

As more and more member of our synagogue family are watching loved ones grow older and/or wrestle with severe illnesses, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to insure that we are prepared, to the best of our abilities, for the inevitability of life. Given this, I hope you will take the time to read my article: “WHAT DO I DO NOW: A step by step guide to dealing with a death in the family”. You can click HERE to read it or visit my blog, BlogShalom at http://rabbiandrewjacobs.org, where it is also posted. I am happy to meet with any of you to discuss issues pertaining to the article.

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