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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

June 15, 2018  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Summertime rejuvenation

By RABBI GARSON HERZFELD Temple Beth Shalom, Winter Haven

Summer for me is a time of rejuvenation. It provides a hiatus from my regular schedule with opportunities for travel, recreation, study and to catch up with friends. As one gets older, relationships with friends become more and more important, especially for one who is single. Family members, for many of us, are scattered all over the country or even abroad. Children, grandchildren, siblings and cousins … often are busy with their own lives. I am fortunate to have made many dear friends here in the Tampa area and in Winter Haven, where my synagogue is located.

Dinah Craik in A Life for a Life (1859) wrote:

Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

Here too I have been blessed with a handful of close friends, especially one who is almost like family that lives about 10 minutes from me. Moreover, during July and August, I usually reconnect with others that live in distant locations. These are the people that I can share my innermost thoughts. They have been with me at joyful occasions and sad ones as well.

Each summer, as I take off for Israel to study at the Shalom Hartman Institute and anticipate seeing rabbinic colleagues, among them friends that go back 40-plus years, I cannot help but think of the following verses from Pirke Avot/Wisdom of the Fathers attributed to Joshua ben Perachya (1:6):

Get yourself a teacher; acquire a friend to study with you. When you judge people, give them the benefit of the doubt.

There is no shortage of teachers – scholars that share their wisdom during the two-week rabbinic seminar in Jerusalem. The chevruta (small group) of which I am a part has been reunited each July for more than 18 years. When all of us study together (as well as on a personal level one to one), we try to suspend judgment and to respect each other’s opinions.

Yes, summer is a special time for me and hopefully for each of you and your families as well. May you renew treasured friendships and may the coming months be a period of rejuvenation – physically, mentally and spiritually – as we approach a new Jewish year this autumn.

Rabbinically Speaking is published as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Tampa Rabbinical Association, which assigns the column on a rotating basis.


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