Archives for October 2010

Count your blessings

Recently I had the most unpleasant experience of being with a mother and her adult daughter (no relation to me) over a period of time. The daughter is an intelligent woman with a family and career of her own. The mother, now over 80 years old, is healthy- and physically and mentally comparable to a person 20 years younger. From the first time I met them, the daughter was critical of pretty much everything her mother said. However, the criticism was not even subtle; it was loud and harsh. When the mother would speak, the daughter would tell her loudly, “No one wants to hear you!” or “You’ve said that a hundred times already!” or “Why are you talking about that now!” The others who were present found the mother witty and charming. We also found the daughter’s hostile outbursts embarrassing to listen to. We reassured the mother that we were indeed interested in what she had to say.

For me, it was particularly hurtful. Although my mother was far from perfect, I always felt that it was my responsibility to act with kindness and respect toward her. After all, she did give birth to me and raise me and despite the negative things she said and did, I loved her. She died much too young and I miss her.

I wanted to say to the daughter, “Count your blessings! Your mother is alive and healthy and independent and completely mentally and physically fit. She is witty and clever and engaging. She has a unique perspective and lots of stories and experiences to share. Someday she will no longer be here and you probably will regret the way you acted toward her. Then, it will be too late to apologize or to make up to her for the pain you have caused her.”

We live with the illusion that life, as we know it, will continue forever, but unfortunately, those we love will not always be here. We need to know that the time we spend with them is precious.

The perils of modern technology

This is a guest post written by my husband. His name is Rabbi Aaron D. Michelson, but you can call him Saba. A lot of people do.

Somewhere I came across the idea that if two terms can be considered opposites then the existence of one of them implies the existence of the other even if only as the absence of the first one. In theology this led to many debates about the nature of evil with some saying that it has a real and palpable existence of its own and others saying that it is merely the absence of good, its opposite.

The same arguments could be held on the subject of intelligence/ignorance. Is ignorance a real force in its own right or is it merely the absence of intelligence. Many have experienced “creative” ignorance so concretely that they would argue for its reality. Similarly we may find that if there exists a class of an item that is called smart there is also a class that is stupid and the stupid class has an existence and a reality equal and opposite to the smart class.

Many of you have “smart” phones which are capable of all kinds of clever tricks and operations which can be helpful to you. ” Where,” you may ask, “are the stupid phones?” Until recently, I might have asked the same question had it occurred to me. This morning at 4:08 AM the answer was thrust upon me. and then for almost two hours it was periodically drilled into my eardrums.

In the past few days I have exchanged text messages with someone who is near and dear to me. At 4:08 AM and ff, that dear person’s stupid phone showed its true colors. Again and again it rang. Bleary eyed I tried to discern a message. None. Perhaps my dear one was in trouble. After two hours I sent a message. Dear one was well. Stupid phone had prevailed. No helpful advice; no cute games; no internet radio or even pictures that know which way is up. Just dumb ringing and if I failed to answer because I had fallen asleep momentarily beep beep beep to remind me that I had not answered the nonmessages that stupidphone had visited upon me.

Yes Virginia, there is a Stupid Phone and it is here among us.

Off once again

Sukkot is over. The newest baby is born and named. And now, on to China!

I haven’t been to China for 3 years and am very excited about going now. I am less excited about my journey on Aerosvit Airlines (and no, that’s not a typo). I will be spending 4 hours in Kiev, a place I would like to visit, but I have been told that 4 hours is not enough to get into town, to see something, and to get back in time for my next flight. I guess Kiev will have to wait for another trip.

I am expecting to have internet access at some of the hotels we are staying at. So, you can watch my other blog: for updates on my whereabouts and adventures.

Bye all!