Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, August 27, 2023
Shavuah Tov,

Do NOT Read This Rabbi’s Reflection
by Dr. Raymond Finney

Rabbi’s note:  I read this and love it.  It brought tears to my eyes more than once.  Do yourself a favor and read this… then read it again.

INTRODUCTION: Rabbi Weiner grants me the privilege of writing a weekly RR. I am grateful for the opportunity of serving the Lord in my last years of life, even in this small measure.

DO NOT READ THIS RR: I write today’s RR for myself. (Writing a RR is cheaper and more convenient than, say, psychoanalysis.) However, I strongly  recommend that you do not read this RR for several reasons, including:

● I pledged not to write anything personal in these RRs. Today’s RR is personal, breaking my pledge.

● You have your own life, which likely is busy and complicated. Why should you be interested in my life?

● I have previously mentioned some of the issues discussed today. As a symptom of my geezerhood, I find I repeat things. (Beware: You may fall prey to being a geezer some day.)

● I want to pay tribute to my wife (Linda), children (Debbie, Ray, Charles, and John), and grandchildren (Alex and Taylor), but I sorely lack the writing skills to commit to this RR what is in my heart. What I have written is poorly crafted and is unworthy of your time to read it.

A TIME FOR REFLECTION: Still reading? You did not heed the warning not to read, did you? I have written a two-part series on salvation, which I had planned to start today. This series is stored in my computer, and I will probably post the first part soon.

Events in the past couple of weeks have stirred my emotions.

I have never thought much about dying. I was too busy to die. Recently, Linda and I have decided to ease burdens for our children, when we die. We finalized our wills, prepaid our funerals, and purchased mausoleum crypts at a local cemetery. I wish I could say we are all set to die and excited about the prospect, but I am content to wait a little while.

Question: If a person believes in Heaven and believes he/ she is going there, why is there reluctance to die? I have no answer for this question. Yeshua’s apostles and early Believers seemed to be much more excited about the prospect of dying than most of us are today.

As I sat in the cemetery office across a table from my beloved Linda purchasing mausoleum crypts, my mind’s eye looked back on my life. (Consumer alert: Linda and I wanted to be buried in mausoleum crypts, and we were expecting to pay more. I was surprised and pleased to learn that above-ground [mausoleum] burial is cheaper than in-ground burial.)

NOW, IT GETS PERSONAL: I continue my reflection. As I sat in the cemetery office, I saw in my mind’s eye the beautiful little teenage girl that captured my heart in 1959 and was willing to marry me in 1961. My first date was truly love at first sight. I dated no one else after that moment.

It is still a mystery why Linda agreed to marry me. She was so nearly perfect she could have married a much more appealing husband. I truly believe some Heavenly Power intervened on my behalf and gave me a perfect mate. << See Proverbs 19:14: House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from Adonai. >> (I will not ask Linda, if I am her “perfect mate.” Having dealt with lawyers many years in forensic cases, I have learned enough to know that a question is never asked in a trial, unless the answer is already known.)

Linda is now a beautiful, mature woman– a mother and grandmother. Linda and I have aged over the past six-plus decades. Her dark brown hair is now gray. Her flawless skin now shows wrinkles. She is a few pounds heavier. She has always been drop dead gorgeous in my eyes (and still is), but her character and demeanor are even more beautiful than her physical beauty.

WHO IS MY WIFE? Who is this woman I have known for nearly two-thirds of a century? I have eaten thousands of meals across a table from her. I have shared with her an undefiled marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4). I have traveled many miles with her, and lived in many different homes. I have discussed many things and laughed with her. I have experienced great joy with her, and I have shared disappointments. She is my very best friend.

Who is this woman– God’s gift to me? After more than sixty-five years of being in almost constant companionship with her, I still find her mysterious. (A law of nature seems that men are basic, uncomplicated, and easy to understand. On the other hand, women are extremely complicated, filled with complex emotions, and can probably never be fully understood.)

I am not ready to say goodbye to Linda. That day is approaching, though, and I dread it. I am cowardly and selfish enough to hope that I die first, so that I do not have to see her lifeless body and know her voice has been stilled.

A LONG OVERDUE ACCOUNTING: As Linda and I prepare for our deaths, I think about my life. What a blessed life God, my family, and my community have given me! I can think of many things I wish I had done differently (had done better) for others, but I would not change a single thing that has been done for me. I suppose I suffer from a blessings deficit (I have received more blessings than I have given).

My parents, grandparents, wife, children, grandchildren, neighbors, work associates, fellow Believers, and others have been so kind to me. They have blessed my life beyond measure! I say again: I am truly blessed.

Some readers, older than I am, can speak with greater experience about life. But, some readers are younger. So, listen up, you “youngsters.”  When you reach your senior years, I encourage you not to have made the mistakes that have led to some of my end-of-life regrets. Live every day to the fullest. Treat others with love and kindness. Show God in all Three Persons your unqualified love, respect, and obedience.

Some day you will recognize the brief span of your life. You will ask yourself, “Where did my life go?” You will wonder, “Did I make the most of the one life God gave me?” You will fear facing your Divine Judge, “Will I hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant?’” Or, will He merely say, “Next?”

In the movie Dead Poet’s Society, there is a scene you should watch ( Dead Poets Society – YouTube ). The teacher (Robin Williams) takes his boys’ prep school class into the hallway to view a photograph of a class of boys who were by that time very old or dead. To get them to think about the brevity of life, he starts whispering, “Carpe diem.” (Latin Carpe diem, translated to English, is: “Seize the day.”) Seize every day you live for the rest of your life, and determine what God and others have in store for you. << See Psalm 118:24: This is the day that Adonai has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! >> I have wasted and not fully appreciated many, many days God created for me. I now wish I could have some of those days back.

IN PRAISE OF MARRIAGE: You apparently have ignored my warning and are still reading. Okay, I will add some Scriptures in praise of marriage. If you have a spouse, I hope you realize that this is the most sacred human relationship you should ever have. Linda is the best friend I have now or have ever had.

Consider these Scriptures:

● A husband and wife should be as one (“one flesh”). << See Genesis 2:23-24: Then [Adam] said: “This one [Eve], at last, is bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one is called woman, for from man was taken this one. This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh.” >> Yeshua confirmed this God-ordained relationship (see Matthew 19:2-9). Linda and I are in constant companionship. We agree on almost everything. We have become “one flesh,” as much as humanly possible.

I hope you and your spouse are or are becoming “one flesh.” Life is too short to be in constant disagreement with anyone– especially a spouse. If there is discord in your marriage, family, or home, you need to work with great resolve to establish peace in the home. A starting place may be to consider one or more prayers someone has written for peace in the home ( see: https://connectusfund.org/25-strong-prayers-for-peace-in-the-home ).

●  Marriage is the model for the Divine-human relationship:

□ Israel was considered to be Adonai’s wife. When she sinned against Him, she committed spiritual adultery. (See writings of Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel.)

□ Yeshua is the Bridegroom for Believers. Believers should present themselves as morally pure brides to Him (the model is spiritual virgins), when they marry in Paradise. (See writings of Paul and The Revelation.)

□ Spouses are to love each other, as Yeshua loves His followers. << See Ephesians 5:25-33: Husbands, love your wives just as Messiah also loved His community and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, having cleansed her by immersion in the word. Messiah did this so that He might present to Himself His glorious community– not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing, but in order that she might be holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it– just as Messiah also does His community, because we are members of His body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is great– but I am talking about Messiah and His community. In any case, let each of you love his own wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband. >>

● Marriage must be an unsullied bond of trust and faithfulness between a man and a woman. The marriage bed must be kept honorable and undefiled. << See Hebrews 13:4: Let marriage be held in honor among all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. >> “Undefiled” translates the Greek amiantos, which means “unsoiled” (usually regarded as free of adultery, although there are other ways of defiling a marriage)

● Love, a gift of the Spirit, should dominate a Believer’s life and marriage. << See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag, it is not puffed up, it does not behave inappropriately, it does not seek its own way, it is not provoked, it keeps no account of wrong, it does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices in the truth; it bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things,it endures all things. >>

● Yeshua only issued three commandments for His followers: love God with one’s entire being, love neighbors as self is loved, and love fellow Believers as Yeshua first loved us. If we love God, we must love others, including our family. Paul explained that a person should love his/ her spouse, as self is loved. << See Ephesians 5:25-26, 28, 33: Husbands, love your wives just as Messiah also loved His community and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, having cleansed her by immersion in the word. |…| In the same way, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. |…| In any case, let each of you love his own wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband. >>

● Paul warned us to choose a spouse carefully, to not be “unequally yoked” (unequally joined) with an unbeliever. << See 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What harmony does Messiah have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement does God’s Temple have with idols?…. >> People who make bad choices often are forced to live with bad choices. A life’s mate must be chosen carefully. Search for a mate in God-honoring places (synagogue or church, for example) and not in God-displeasing places (singles bar, for example). If a potential mate hates God, it is possible that a God-loving partner can change him/ her, but it will be an uphill battle.

● I love Linda. In loving her, I demonstrate my love to God. << See 1 John 4:7: Loved ones, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. >>

● Although Ruth made a beautiful statement of love and faithfulness to her mother-in-law, Naomi, her statement could be applied to partners in a marriage. << See Ruth 1:16-17: Ruth replied [to Naomi], “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Adonai deal with me, and worse, if anything but death comes between me and you!” >>

● There are other pertinent Scriptures, which I cannot list because of space limitations.

WHERE HAS IT GONE? I ponder my past years of life and the few days remaining. I ask myself, “Where has my life gone?” My life’s memories seem like they occurred only “yesterday.” In college, I had to read T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” (Yes, that is the real title.) The most famous line in Eliot’s poem is, ”I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,….” I have done some good things (have accomplished some good things) in life, but far, far too much of my life has been parceled out in dribs and drabs, as though being miserly measured out in coffee spoons.

In his waning days of life, Solomon (Kohelet, the Preacher) also wondered about what he left behind, unaccomplished. Read Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes, chapter 1.

I urge you to reflect on your own life. How can you serve God and neighbors more fully, before it is too late? We have only a finite time to work for God, and, then, it is too late. << See John 9:4: [Yeshua said] “We must do the work of the One who sent Me, so long as it is day! Night is coming when no one can work.” >>

Extremely important work is to work for and love your spouse and family. You honor God and prove your faith, when you serve your family. << See 1 Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his own, especially those in his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. >> “To provide for his own” certainly include the basics of life (shelter, food, clothing, etc.) but also include other needs (love, emotional support, kindness, a model for children to emulate, etc.).

How it must grieve God when someone betrays his/ her spouse by adultery, or by physical or emotional abuse, or by neglect. On the other hand, how it must please and glorify God, when someone treats his/ her spouse and family with complete love.

CONCLUSION: If you have read this RR in its entirety, I warned you not to do so. It is personal. It is disorganized. It is clumsily, poorly written. I advised you not to read it. I will not apologize for your failure to heed a warning.

I would add, though, that now is the time to serve God by serving your spouse and children. Some day you may be making end-of-life plans. It was sobering when I viewed the crypts that will house Linda and me, when we die.

May you look back on your life with few regrets. May you agree with the Apostle Paul, as he reviewed his life. << See 2 Timothy 4:6-8: For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is reserved for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day– and not to me only, but also to everyone who has longed for His appearing. >> May all of us fight the good fight of life, finish life’s course with honor, and keep the faith in the relatively few remaining days allotted to us by God.

I add this simple prayer: Father,  please receive me, please receive my wife, please receive my children, and please receive my grandchildren into Your Heaven.

Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

<< Scripture quotations from the Tree of Life Version Bible. >>

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 27 Aug 2023 10th of Elul, 5783
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