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Cantorís Notes: April 2002

Jessica (Fox)  Epstein

Temple Ner Tamid, NJ

Judaism has a blessing for everything. We have blessings to say when waking up and blessings to say when falling asleep. There is, for example, one blessing to say when eating an appleóbut another one for eating a carrot. Bread, wine and cereals also have their own unique blessings.

There is a blessing for everything, and everything for a blessing.

The things we eat, use, see and feel are merely vessels that allow us to praise Godís holy name. We donít sanctify the items--wine, apples, carrots, blossomsóby blessing them. We use them to remind ourselves that everything in this world is a small miracle that must be acknowledged and appreciated. We stop before we sip fine wine, nibble a luscious pear, or see a rainbow in order to appreciate the Creator of All.

Spring is a time when the miracles of Godís creative power seem closer to us. Delicate flowers bloom in the lengthening hours of sunshine. Leaves now unfold as if by magical command. Rich green saturates our once dull, gray world. We are renewed again.

Maybe April is truly the "cruelest" month. Winter barely touched us this year; some have noted that it was like a long, drawn-out, dreary autumn without end. Dry, cold and dark have surrounded us for months. Itís been an uncomfortable, restless hibernation.

Last week I drove into the city at night. Speeding around the helix, my gaze clung to the towers of light in lower Manhattan. Two blue beams shone above the skyline and into the stars. Later, leaving town and driving on the West Side Highway towards the Lincoln Tunnel, some volunteer firefighters from Upstate asked for directions at a light. "Weíre trying to get to Ground Zero," they said. "Which way should we go?" "South," I replied. "Just keep driving towards the lights."

Thereís more light in the morning now, waking us early and warming cold bones. There are lights at night now as well. I find lately I need both the light of God and the light of Man, the warm, life-giving sun and the blue-hot fire of memory and pain.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, the Creator of Light.