Today is shloshim for my grandmother, meaning my dad can shave and do whatever other things you can do 30 days after your parent dies according to Judaism. My dad (for some reason?) is giving a speech, and he (for some reason) emailed the speech to me. The speech is basically a rehash of the eulogy, with a lot more religious stuff added in (the eulogy also had religious stuff, but that was contianed to a page...this is more like 6 pages of religious stuff and 1 page of stuff about his mother).
Anyways, after that long email I sent him that said how insulted I was by the eulogy, when he kept saying how he has to make sure his children are jewish, to which he responded that he hears what i'm saying, all that stuff is in this speech too! (wow that was a run on sentance) What the hell! It's like I told him how i felt about it, he acknowledged it, and then did the same thing all over again! argh. If he has to do this bullshit, why does he have to send me these speeches!
Anyways here are some excepts:
Many people have asked me how I am doing and how this has changed my life. When speaking to other people who have also lost a parent I am impressed that the most concrete way this has changed our lives is that we are constantly under pressure to keep track of the minyanim and try to make it to every kaddish we can.
wow, so the way my dad was most affected is that now he has to go to minyan every day? that's some cold shit right there...
The first reference in the Torah to something like the kaddish prayer occurs when Yaakov is surrounded by his sons and is about to prophesize to them. He loses his "ruach Hakodesh and suspects that one of the them might give up their faith and Jewish culture in the future. They respond together by saying "Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad." Don’t worry, we believe in the same one G-d and faith that you believe in. Yaakov responds by saying "Boruch Shem Kovod malchuso l’olom Voed." Since this is a prayer normally said only by the angels, we whisper it except for Yom Kippur when we are compared to angels. Since the angels don’t speak Aramaic, the literal translation is "Yeheh shmey rabbah mevorach l’olam ulolmay olmayah" That, we can say out loud.
Think about it. When we say the kaddish we are doing the same thing that Yaakov and his sons did as he was about to pass away. We take a painful moment in our lives when a parent has passed away and we honor our parents by reaffirming our faith in G-d’s name and his eternal plan by following Jewish customs, culture and traditions. We are always aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants going back to our patriarchs and matriarchs thousands of years. In a sense, it is very much like the Olympic torch tradition. One runner hands the torch off to the next one as the event continues. By saying the kaddish prayer, we take up that torch and promise to keep running with it until the time comes to hand it over to our children in turn.
This olympic torch metaphore was in the eulogy, and i don't think it's that inspiring. But yeah again, my dad's lesson o' the day here is that when your parents dies you realize you have to be jewish for some reason. Also that this means he has to make me jewish.
The mystics teach us that we help elevate the neshama by repeating the Kaddish prayer every day, magnifying and elevating Hashem’s name. Our sages tell us that, even more important than repeating the kaddish prayers, we can magnify and honor G-d’s name by observing and following our mitzvos and traditions. This, more than repeating the kaddish, acts as a tikkun for the neshamah of the deceased.
When we say the Kel Maleh Rachamim prayer we pray that the soul be bound in the bond of the living. What exactly does that mean, the bond of the living? Some interpret this to mean that we only actualize ourselves and truly live in Olem Haba’ah, in Heaven. Another way to interpret this might be that the souls of our loved ones will always be bound with us, the living survivors so long as we continue to cherish their memories in our hearts, follow their examples and maintain the Jewish traditions that made them who they are. By commemorating my mother’s shloshim together today, that is what my father, my sister, myself and the other survivors, family and friends, can only hope to do.
ok so maybe i'm overreacting. Ok i'm pretty sure i'm overreacting. But i'm tired of getting mussur speaches via email, which are disguised as eulogys and shloshim speeches. So we can't love our dead relatives unless we maintain their jewish traditions? My grandmother wasn't even religious! She just sent my dad to jewish school so he wouldn't have to go to public school, and then he became a baal tshuva! I don't understand this idea that when someone dies you start going crazy religious...i mean my grandmother died, and I don't suddenly believe in god.
Ok so here is my response i probably won't send (i probably won't send any response, becuase at this point i've just about given up)(also it's kinda mean)
Glad to hear that you have become even more of a fundementalist jew since your mother has died. I still remain an atheist. As such, if you have to tell all your friends about how you are more religious now that your mother has died, please don't forward the speeches to me. I have about the same level of interest in hearing about your religious revelations as you have in hearing about my non-jewish boyfriend.
Unless you think he's deliberately attempting to give you (personally) mussar by sending you the speech, I think you should probably let it go. This is the meaning he is creating in the wake of a great loss. We've got to pick our battles, and this probably isn't a great time for you to be picking one. :-)ReplyDelete
I remember a couple of irritations when my own father was sitting shiva. At one point, I got frustrated and told him that I felt like he was coercing me into religious activities (minyan at the shiva house, etc.) He was apologetic (unlike your father, I gather) but I think in hindsight I was probably being oversensitive.
Still, I know how aggravating it can be when all people focus on after someone's death is the religious stuff. I think I might post about a funeral I attended that kind of irritated me soon.
Ok, I wrote it.ReplyDelete
I do think he is persoanlly trying to give me mussur...but i've decided not to send him a response.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed your post...and i am also irritated that my dad keeps focusing on the religious stuff my grandmother supposedly did (which she never actually did to my knowledge) instead of how much of an awesome lady she way.
But yeah i know that i shoudl pick my battles...that's why i'm venting about it here instead of actually responding to him :)
When my mother was on her death bed and all morphined up, all my family concentrated on was if everything was halachaly correct. They brought in a rabbi who barely knew my mother to 'confirm' all of their actions. She died on Shabbat and my sister refused to call her husband. She had my goy husband call her house and she was talking casually in the background. This was how her husband found out. After making funeral preparations, they were trying to figure out where to eat and what was kosher. This irritated me so much.ReplyDelete
Then, of course, someone had to "guard" her body until she was buried. At the funeral the bulldozer came right where we were standing and dumped a huge pile of dirt for us to bury her. My non-jewish sister-in-law was mortified.
I just have to tell you that the speech torch inspires me...ReplyDelete
I was raised without tradition to stand on, and I yearn for that social custom and cohesion,albeit on my own terms. Yeah that's key, cause I wouldn't take shit from religion. It's a shame the loveliness is lost in the religion when it's wielded by zealots. The families we chose- the religion we chose too...
I think you can be a little more sensitive with your father taking into account what he is going through and how he is trying to cope with his loss.ReplyDelete
sensitive how? By say, venting about it in my blog and not actually saying anything to him? Because that's what I did. ...ReplyDelete
Being sensitive doesn't necessarily mean doing anything different. It means making a conscious effort in your heart to feel what the other person is feeling.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry for your loss. It's definitely distasteful to spin the loss of a loved one for ideological purposes; having said that, maybe it's your father's way of dealing with -- and trying to ascribe meaning to -- a tremendously stressful life event. As I personally know neither you nor your father, I wouldn't say.ReplyDelete
I did pick up on the Olympic Torch thing. What very few people know is that the Olympic Torch marathon first took place in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, at the behest of a certain A. Hitler (he was trying to tap into the symbolism of the flame of western civilization, passing from Greece to Germany). Puts the whole thing (and metaphors based on it) in a different light, IMHO.
I agree with resh lakish. Losing one's mother is like losing everything. Losing one's religion is also like losing one's whole world, because religion is everything to a person, comfort, love, justice, truth, social structure, family, morality ... In fact the talmud compares Torah to a mother in the verse "v'al titosh toras imecho". So your father might be going through some religious crisis himself, loss of mother, loss of faith in Torah. That's why he needs to give you mussar: because by convincing you he is convincing himself. I believe there is a worm of doubt in his heart as well.ReplyDelete
is losing your mother like losing everything for everybody? My father's mother lived half a continent away, and they spoke twice a month for about 10 minutes, and visited once a year. Yes, I acknowledge that losing a mother is never pleasent, but I don't know why you presume to know my family situation, or the way in which my family interacts with each other...ReplyDelete
I also don't know where you are getting this crisis of faith thing. If anything, my father (and mother) have become more and more religious over the years. As a child my mother would wear pants, didn't cover her hair, and I remember sitting poolside and tanning with my dad on a saturday afternoon. They were truely modern orthodox then.
As I've gotten older and less religious, my parents have gotten more religious. My mother stopped wearing pants when I was around 12 (and stopped letting me wear pants as well), started covering her hair...my father started learning all the time, and got smicha about 3 years ago, and now every time I talk to him I get to hear about the latest in jewish laws on roots and sticks or something like that. It's funny, my dad always used to make fun of my uncle because my uncle is annoying and always gives mussar speaches to everyone, but now my dad is becoming just like that.
In conclusion, way to speculate based on no evidence about my dad's faith :)
As I've gotten older and less religious, my parents have gotten more religious. My mother stopped wearing pants when I was around 12 (and stopped letting me wear pants as well), started covering her hair...my father started learning all the time, and got smicha about 3 years ago, and now every time I talk to him I get to hear about the latest in jewish laws on roots and sticks or something like that. It's funny, my dad always used to make fun of my uncle because my uncle is annoying and always gives mussar speaches to everyone, but now my dad is becoming just like that.ReplyDelete
In conclusion, way to speculate based on no evidence about my dad's faith :)
Sure, we don't know them and you do. Having said that, confusing the externals of religion with faith is a mistake. In fact, very often, people who are experiencing a crisis of faith try and ward it off by trying all the harder with the rituals and the trappings of piety. This is especially true with Judaism.
Again, I don't know you or your Dad. Just saying.
Anyways, I'm definitely not defending this behavior. Quite the opposite.