26 May 2012

Year 2, Day 146 (The Passing Of A Good Man)

Today started out pretty nice; moderate weather temperatures, a nice day, and peaceful. Unfortunately, it became a somber time of mourning. This afternoon, at around 1320, LeRoy Baruch Bennett - my father-in-law - passed away at the age of 72. He was a good man. Some would say he enjoyed discussing Scripture, others would say he liked to debate, and still others would say he liked to argue... I say, "all of the above." I first met him when my wife, Tikvah, and I were still dating (while she was separated from her first husband)... around 1991. She had a relative that had just passed away, and LeRoy was coming out for the funeral. On that particular day, we were returning from someplace (probably the grocery store) when we pulled into the drive of her home in Anaheim, CA.

At that time, I was still serving in the Marine Corps, while also being a part of the Goth sub-culture. When we pulled into the drive, she jumped out of the car shouting with excitement, "He's here! He's here!" I had no idea who "he" was. I parked the car, and stepped out - wearing long black pants, 14-hole "ox blood" (burgundy) colored Doc Marten boots, and a black Love & Rockets t-shirt - when she ran back out of the house, saying, "my Daddy's here... you're going to meet my Dad!" So I did what any young man (whether Goth, or Marine, or any hybrid containing the two) dating a man's beautiful daughter would do... I said, "I don't think so!" Needless to say, he accepted me without judgement.

We've had many disagreements over the years, mainly stemming from either Scripture or politics. One thing that never changed was our fondness and respect for one another. He may have been a cantankerous old curmudgeon, but I still loved him.

Something I found rather ironic about his passing is the fact that, though he never fully accepted his Judaic roots, he left this earth on the Sabbath... the day G-d Himself ordained as the "Day of Rest." Today also happened to be the eve of Shavu'ot. In brief, I'll sum up Shavu'ot in this excerpt taken from the website for Judaism 101:

Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).

The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.

It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.

So, basically, LeRoy left this earth on the "Day of Rest" and became both physically and spiritually free from the bondage of this world. Now that's going out with honor!

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