Friday, October 27, 2017

The Game of Go

The purpose of this blog is to add a nugget of inspiration to the Friday night dinner table
Dedicated by Lily Kanter and Marc Sarosi to the memory of Yermiyahu Matan (Jeremy Dossetter), alav hashalom.

JeremyJeremy is the young man I wrote about last week who disappeared into the warm waters of Molokai.

Hundreds attended Shiva at his family's San Francisco home this week, all feeling the same thing — how can there be comfort for losing a son and brother?

Even more so when you can't have a funeral.

If you had met Jeremy, I know that you would have loved him.

I know that because everyone loved him. There was absolutely nothing about him not to like.

No trace of anger, impatience, laziness, jealousy, gluttony, greed, pride or vanity.

He was calm but passionate about life and everything he did. He seized the day.

One of his emerging passions was the weekly pursuit of Jewish wisdom.

He intuitively understood "Torah" by its full name, "Torat Chayim" - instructions for living. In every topic, in every discussion, he calmly probed until he found a life lesson.

So this week I was thinking back to those past few years studying with him, trying to recall what "Torah" Jeremy found most meaningful or uplifting.

What came to mind was a chapter he particularly enjoyed.

It was last January, as he was preparing to move to Hawaii. We happened to be learning this week's portion (Lech L'cha).

It begins:

Go for yourself from your land, from birthplace, from your family....

The protagonist (Abraham) is obviously on a quest or spiritual journey of self-discovery. What Jeremy found so moving is the tightening circles of leaving: land, then birthplace, then family.

His interpretation:

- It isn't enough to travel physically from your land, if your head is still in your hometown.
- It isn't enough to unchain your mind from your hometown, if your heart is still preoccupied with your family.
- Self-discovery sometimes requires leaving the familiar and comfortable, and venturing out into the world.

Before leaving to Hawaii, Jeremy embraced the idea that physical, mental and emotional distance would help him discover himself. To discover his true passions and ambitions.

He also knew that going doesn't mean you can't come back....

But maybe you won't.....

Question for your table: Even if you do, will you still be you?

May his memory be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Into the Wind

  The purpose of this blog is to bring some closure to your Shabbat table. Please like it, tweet it, forward it or print and share.

JeremyD3This smiling face will forever be etched in my mind.

For the past couple years, it has appeared (sans helicopter) on my computer screen every week, usually Friday.

Always smiling, occasionally groggy (he was six hours behind me - guess where that may be?)

Both of us with our copies of the best-seller

He was proud of his copy of the Book. He knew that it was a source of wisdom.

And as much as he loved the internal experience of the pursuit of wisdom, he also loved the external experience of
the wind.

The wind made him feel something.
When he cycled around a sharp curve, flying down a steep hill, the wind in his face, he felt something.

When he was catching a wave early in the morning on one of his five surfboards, he felt something.

But it wasn't until he started flying helicopters - which coincided with his learning Torah - that he could articulate that feeling.

He said it made him feel connected to God.

Here is a photo he sent me from one of his first solo flights in northern California:
Jeremy Solo

But the California skies were not high enough. He moved to Hawaii to train under tougher conditions with the best of the best.

There, one of the bread-and-butter flights to master is to Molokai, "the Friendly Isle".

This is what he saw:

The sunsets at Molokai must have been phenomenal from 4,000 feet up.

Maybe that's why, on Monday this week, he and his instructor did a quick run out there, just in time to catch the sunset.

I'm just guessing, but maybe Jeremy had never been there at sunset and since it was his last week as a student before graduation, it was something like a celebration, or maybe a last chance.

Regardless, it wasn't their first time making that trip and it should have been easy enough.

But at 7:30 pm, on a moonless night, that same wind that Jeremy loved so much became unfriendly. 

It suddenly refused to do its job of holding them aloft, dropping the chopper like a tree releases an autumn leaf.
A man fishing on the beach saw their chopper plunge into the wine-dark sea.

And yesterday, after three days of meticulous searching day and night, the Coast Guard has found no identifiable remains, neither of the helicopter nor its pilots.

Jeremy and I should have been studying Torah today - our first session of the New Year.

He was on an upward trajectory in life. He was growing spiritually and mentally, looking forward to completing his training and eventually taking me up on my offer to bring him to Israel. Most of all, he was looking forward to making a difference.

He was truly one of the nicest, most thoughtful, kindest, gentlest, warmest, happiest, people I’ve ever known.

Baruch Dayan Emet.

The questions for your table about this event are as obvious as they are enormous. Are there any answers?

Shabbat Shalom

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