וְסָלַחְתָּ לַעֲוֹנִי כִּי רַב-הוּא
For the sake of Your name, Cause of Being:
May You forgive my willful and wayward acts, though they are plentiful.
The heart of the psalm: acknowledging my waywardness, requesting pardon
Benjamin Segal states: “The central verse (v.11) stands alone.” He explains that it is a prayer for forgiveness in the singular. The second half of the verse is used as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy, which is unusual because sins are generally stated in the plural during our communal day of atonement. (Segal, p 115, 117)
Pandemic living and this season of joy
I have been so wayward during this holy season. It has been so difficult for me to stay rooted in joy. Throughout the pandemic, I have struggled to stay grounded and focused. Recently, I realized how much I miss being around other people. Past retreats I attended feel so much more meaningful in the rear view mirror.
My last time traveling was for the final week of the Davennen Leadership Training Institute in February, right before the shutdowns. DLTI supports creating meaningful prayer experiences for communities across the United States.
Last Sunday, I learned that a friend, Benjamin Telushkin, z”l, from DLTI passed away unexpectedly right before Sukkot. It is strange to bear such heartbreaking news to a community. Ben lived in NYC and our cohort is spread out across the country. So, I did not have the opportunity to have a socially distanced, in-person conversation with another grieving friend. Yet again, Zoom became our communal gathering space.
Benjamin Telushkin: embodiment of joy
It is quite easy for me to get stuck in my head, intellectualize my thoughts, rationalize my actions. In many ways, Ben was my opposite. He relished being Jewish, holding space for love to flow through him. With his wife Grace, he was creating a beautiful family.
Ben was also one of the first people I met on my way to DLTI. We both caught a ride from New York City to the Isabella Freedman Retreat center, sharing the journey with two other DLTI’ers. You never forget the first people you meet on your way to meeting 70+ new friends.
I pray Ben’s soul is released from the material world. May he ascend to the infinite with which he was constantly reaching towards. I pray his soul is able to continue its journey while also maintaining her connection with his wife and family.
Ben’s Gematria Poem:
Ipoem with the “I” in Uppercase
Resources for the Journey
“The Meaning of Life During COVID times” an interview on the study of happiness.