I will be celebrating my 50th birthday on the fourth night of Chanukah. There have been many times over the past 15 years when it did not seem likely that I would ever live to be 50. I actually have many birthdays now. I consider each time I turned the corner from death to life as another birthday.
It’s not the presents that turned me into a birthday collector. I usually received only one gift each Chanukah. It served as a combination Chanukah-Birthday gift, so, birthday presents never became important.
Why stop at counting near death experiences? An expert birthday-collector can do better than that! I will add the following to my collection: The day Debbie agreed to marry me was certainly the beginning of a new life, as was our marriage. That’s two more. The day when Debbie called me and said, “I started a website for you. Now, you’ll have to write,” was certainly the beginning of a new life. The day I discovered the joy of studying Gemara, (Williamsburg, NY, 1965) was absolutely the start of a new life. The moment my father zt”l introduced me to the teachings of the Ramchal lives on in practically every moment of my life. That has go to count as an important birthday. (Yes, I remember the dates!) Let’s see, the day I got my driver’s license, the day I became an uncle, then a father, and then a grandfather. I could go on and on, as I often do, but you get the idea: Thank God, my life is filled with wonderful and transformative moments. At least once a day, I learn something that adds an entirely new perspective to my life. I might as well have a birthday every day.
And that, my dear friends, is exactly what I love about my life. I am not counting numbers or years. I am not actually a birthday-collector. I am privileged to live a life filled with wonder, love, meaning and joy, all of which expand every day. Which is why we add a new candle each night of Chanukah. We are celebrating the adventure of living.
I hope that I am successfully sharing all of those feelings with you. I wish the same and more for all of you. Thanks for joining me on my journey. That’s the best gift. Although, if you really want to give me a present, I just happen to have another list…..
I have many gifts for you: We have posted four important series on Chanukah: Lights, Countdown to Chanukah, Chanukah Hallel, and Chanukah Kavanot. They are filled with practical spiritual exercises to enhance every moment of Chanukah.
A very special gift is from my dear friend, Rabbi Chaim Goldberger’s The Six Steps of Bitachon. I urge you to listen to this MP3 numerous times. It will change your life. Happy Adventures!
Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameiach v’Or,
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg