Each of these relationships exists for a different purpose. A relationship with a partner or spouse is one that is intimate, with a goal of sharing life and life’s journey together. Friendships allow us to share life but in a different way, perhaps only experiencing pieces of that journey together. Relationships with work colleagues and others are for a particular purpose at a particular time in life, often not moving beyond that basic need at that moment in time.
I recently officiated at a funeral for a lovely, warm, caring woman, as described by her family. They shared with us at the funeral how she would create a relationship with random individuals with whom she came in contact. She knew enough about the postman or the UPS delivery man or the shop owners in the stores she frequented to ask them about their families, by name, their lives and their days.
Upon hearing this story, it pushed me to contemplate if perhaps we are sometimes so busy in our daily lives that we do not make an effort to deepen our relationships, the ones that exist already, instead of seeking so many new and perhaps not meaningful relationships.
Perhaps we should, during this month of Elul, use this as an opportunity to learn a little more about the people with whom we interact on a regular basis. I recently heard a story from a woman whom I have known for several years that was so emotional and moving, and I had no idea she owned such a fascinating story as a part of her personal journey. I wonder how many other stories I don’t know that might impact me, as well as my relationship with my relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances.
As we venture into 5776, perhaps we will stop to inquire of others questions and observations that allow a greater depth to an already existing relationship. When we see each other, we commonly ask one another “how are you?” Most of the time, we don’t actually want to know. We simply ask the question as a common courtesy. And yet, if we looked occasionally at the person’s face or heard their voice, we would know that something was bothering them, or hurting them.
The next time we inquire as to someone’s well being, even as we see people on the High Holy Days for the first time in a while, let us truly stand still for a moment, listen to the response, and allow a deeper relationship to exist.
Now let the sound of the shofar be heard;
And let our souls be awakened!
Rabbi Debbie Bravo
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