Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly

Sights and Sounds

 Being cooped up in the houses of my children, in Woodmere and Monsey, over the past two months has left me with an ambivalent feeling regarding the experience.   On one hand, my family bonds have been strengthened by the fact that I have spent more time with my children in person and with my grandchildren via the miracle of Zoom, than I ever imagined I would still be able to do. But, on the other hand, as all of you well know, and have yourself experienced, confinement, even of the most pleasant sort, is still confinement. However, I have noticed things that were always present but for which I paid little attention in previous times because I was always in a hurry to go somewhere or do something.


But now I have time to see and hear things that were previously of little concern to me. Now they take on meaning and instruction. I take a walk almost every day, four blocks back and forth from the homes of my children. Since I am headed no place in particular and my walk has no purpose or destination except to return me to where I began, I am not preoccupied with other thoughts except to be careful how I walk. This means that basically I am looking down at the sidewalk and ground most of the time, trying to avoid the irregularities of the pavement upon which I am treading. This also allows me to notice the beautiful array of planted flowers and well-groomed lawns that are the norm in these two American villages.
I have always loved flowers and I am able to admire the ingenuity that people use in planting different species that produce a riotous variety of color. But I am also reminded of the blessing that we make in the month of Nissan, when we first view the new buds of the fruit trees, that all of this is part of the blessing that the Lord had bestowed upon us through the beauty of nature. As such, viewing flowers can certainly be classified as a spiritual experience and not merely as something we should take for granted as we hurry along to our appointed tasks.
The home of my children in Woodmere, New York is situated on the flight path leading towards one of the major runways at JFK airport, a few miles distant. As such, there is a fairly constant roar of jet engines that reverberate throughout the neighborhood for most hours of the day. Since it is so much a part of the environment of this area, my children pay it no notice and, in fact claim that they no longer even hear it. I, as a visitor, always have heard it and took notice of it. In other times, not so far distant, the noise of the jet engines, their shrill whine, was sometimes disturbing to me, especially if I was concentrating of studying or writing. Now, in the midst of this crisis that has made us such lonely individuals, I find that very same sound to be one of comfort and reassurance.
For a time, about five weeks ago, there were relatively few planes that were connecting to the airport and flying over the neighborhood. Over the past few weeks, more and more planes can be heard arriving at or taking off from this gigantic airport To me that is a harbinger of better times coming and of the beginning of the attempt to build a new world which will be necessary as the virus will hopefully loosen its grip upon us. So, the sound of all those planes now flying over the neighborhood has become a note of optimism and a strengthening in the belief that the current difficulties will yet be overcome.
So, simple sights and sounds which were always there have now taken on new meaning and importance to me. I think that this was a valuable life lesson and one that should certainly be carried on in future times as well.
Shabbat Shalom
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.