Cheshbon and Chesed
Pronunciation guide with definitions: the ch of Cheshbon and Chesed is pronounced NOT with the soft ch of Chicago nor with the dental grinding of chop but as you would pronounce Henry, with a trace of phlegm in your throat.
Cheshbon: a moral/ethical self-reckoning, an introspective examination
We thank and express our gratitude to those who served their country as she fought the enemies of mankind; when, as young men barely old enough to shave, they left their mothers' homes, too young to leave from anywhere else, many for their first time and many too, for their last.
They ventured out to face the ravages and savagery of war.
It has been said that one can evaluate the heart of a culture by the manner in which it treats its elderly. Sadly, in America, I do not think we do very well in this department.
Naturally, there are exceptions manifest on an individual basis or on an ethnic cultural level.
Our elderly veterans are a special case in point. I claim no expertise in the quality of medical care delivered in the VA system as a whole or on an individual hospital level; however, there are occasions when even just a taste from a thin slice of pie will leave you with a fairly accurate sense of the quality of the bakery from which it came.
This is what I saw today when, in the company of long-time friend Rabbi Pinchas Eisenbach*, senior Jewish chaplain at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter* and renowned cantor of Jewish sacred music, we attended an ecumenical, commemorative service at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital to which Rabbi Eisenbach had been invited, both as attendee and speaker.
My father ...
taught me that giving was more blessed than receiving.
Rabbi Eisenbach, in a brief Torah lesson to the gathering of approximately seventy, took my father's lesson and elevated it.
With the biblical story of Cain and Abel as backdrop, Rabbi Eisenbach noted that Abel’s sacrificial offering of a first-born sheep was preferable to Cain’s flax.
“It is not only what you give,” he explained, “but more importantly how you give it. With a full heart or a sour face? There’s the difference. So it is with our beloved veterans. Borrowing a phrase from President Lincoln, in memory of those who gave their last full measure of devotion, we have come together, folks from diverse religious backgrounds, to share what we have in common-the need to give thanks when thanks are needed.”
“A good businessman know his customers,” Rabbi Eisenbach assured me. “I’ll chant the twenty-third psalm in Hebrew and we’ll all recite back in English.”
Together, we gathered under a tent of solemnity for an occasion as solemn as this, and with clergymen of other faiths, it became immediately apparent to me that here at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital, there are, as Mrs. Michele Blakely, event coordinator, emphasized in her opening remarks, so many good and giving people, folks who practiced the same lesson my father had taught me.
Dedicated to caring for the men and women who, in their youth were among America's finest and strongest, those whom G-d chose to bless exceedingly He brought back home, having survived the deprivations of war. Now they are our grandfathers, our elderly uncles, our not so elderly sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and spouses.
“Come back to us oh warrior from days gone by, we live in a country called “the land of the free and the home of the brave” due to thy sacrifices and His many kindnesses.”
Last call. Rest in Peace, our Amerian heroes asleep in the dust. Their names were read out and a candle lit to illumine our memories of those we love(d).
A United States naval bugler blew Taps.
Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter
2050 Claire Court
Glenview, IL 60625