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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Of death and dying

So I found myself in synagogue, with my friend who is in mourning.

And the weekly Bible reading ...

Each week, as I've mentioned before, a portion of the Torah -- the Five Books of Moses -- is read aloud in the synagogue. The individual synagogue doesn't choose what to read. The same portion is read in every synagogue around the world, according to a calendar set down by the rabbis centuries ago.

Each Torah portion is paired with a HafTorah, a reading from Scripture other than the Torah. The two readings are paired to form a theme.

The Torah portion this weekend? The last few chapters of the Book of Genesis. Joseph is now Pharoah's viceroy, his brothers and his father Jacob have come to live in Egypt. Jacob tells Joseph he want to be buried in Canaan. On his deathbed, Jacob addresses his sons. Jacob dies, and there is a funeral procession back to Canaan.

The HafTorah comes from the 1Kings 2. King David is on his deathbed, and addresses his son Solomon, telling him how to establish his rule over Israel.

Legacies. Last wishes. Dying parents. Clearly a theme that I can relate to right now.

Two octogenarian parents, each plagued with various health issues. The two strong people who raised me and my sisters are now old and frail, and need our care and supervision. We have to "parent" our parents.

And for how much longer? When will the traditional words of comfort to mourners be addressed to me?

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