Esor Ben-Sorek

Eighty-Six Comes Only Once

I did not want to celebrate. For me it was just another day on the March calendar. Tear off the page and the 22nd disappears. But, in spite of my request to keep the day simple, my lovely children decided to ignore my wishes.

“Abba, you’ll only be 86 once in your life. It’s a reason to celebrate”.

What was I to do? It was 6 against 1, including children and grandchildren. I could not win.

My mother died in 1993 at the age of 86, at that time the oldest family member to reach that old age .  I wanted to live at least one year longer so that I could beat the life-span record. I’ll tell you next year if I succeeded.  But if you don’t hear from me on 22 March 2020, you will understand why.

I received an abundance of birthday cards and telephone calls and gifts from family and friends across the world. 15 in Israel, 1 in Germany, 1 in Brazil, 1 in France,  12 in the United States. While I was very grateful for the cards and calls, there was one gift which stood out among the many others I received.

It was a beautiful video of my beloved cousins who live in Ramat HaSharon who were unable to make a personal visit.  Instead, Binyamin, Shula and Tammy appeared in color singing happy birthday to me and each in turn giving me special blessings. My daughter was very touched by the warmth and genuine love in the video and I watched it, tears falling from my eyes, tears of joy, tears of love for my only surviving family in Israel.  That video is more dear to me than gold, silver, diamonds, or other precious stones.

It is a gift from loving hearts. I have watched it four times and each time the tears well up and fall down .

I am by my nature an emotional man and even small kindnesses and warm words touch my heart.

This may explain why I told my children that I did not want to celebrate.  I could not control my emotions. I will “observe” this day but I won’t overly “celebrate” it. But if I live to reach 87 next year and am still clear in mind and able to touch the keyboard on my computer, I’ll write a follow-up to share.

In gematria 86 equals 14 and 4 +1 equals 5. (The 5 books of the Torah). I was born in 1933, equal to 16. 6+1 equals 7 (The 7 days of the week).  I was born in the 3rd month of the year (3 equals our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and on the 22nd day. 2+2 equals 4 (our 4 matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah).

And of course there is the number 2448. According to our ancient rabbis, the Torah was revealed to Moses and the Children of Israel 2,448 years after the creation of the world

2448 adds up to 18 which is the beautiful word “chai”… life.  Every Jew wishes one another L’chayim, to life.  It was not simply a song sung by Tevya in “Fiddler on the Roof”. The number 18 is very significant in the Jewish religion.

And life begins with birth. The numbers 1+8 equal number 9… “Tisha yarchai laida”… the 9 months prior to birth.

I am greatly blessed with 3 wonderful children plus 3 wonderful grandchildren.  3 + 3 equals 6 (the six days of the creation of the world;  God rested on the 7th day).

However, if I make it to age 87 which is equal to 15, I cannot think of a suitable gematria for that number. And though it adds up to 6, that number has been reserved for the days of God’s creation.

If anyone can think of an appropriate gematria for number 15, please share it with me. And if any readers are celebrating a birthday today, I wish them a yom huledet samayach m’od.




About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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