Numbering Our Days Well

‘There was not a house in which there was not death.” The Torah says this with regard to the Egyptians, but it is also a universal truth. Sooner or later, in every house in which there is life, there will be death.

We avoid confronting that reality. For most of human history, people died in the streets or at home. Modern arrangements have made death remote and antiseptic. But the world reminds us that we do not have forever; that life is fragile and fleeting; that refusing to confront the reality of death does not change the fact that we will die.

A pandemic strips the illusion of eternity. Although painful, this is essential. We love harder when we absorb the truth that one day we will need to let go. We savor the celebrations and cultivate the young who will follow, that our lives might ripple through the currents of time.

“Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom,” says the Psalmist [90:12]. Maybe you have to stay home; maybe you have lost or been hurt during this difficult time. But you are alive. You will not be alive forever. Number your days so that when they end you will know peace. 

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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