Ob­ser­va­tions

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - HERB KEINON

Time and space are two cos­mic con­cepts that have kept re­li­gious thinkers, philoso­phers and sci­en­tists in deep con­tem­pla­tion since the dawn of civ­i­liza­tion. What is time? What is space? How is time mea­sured? How was space cre­ated?

Judaism is a religion that sanc­ti­fies both time and space – time, in the form of Shab­bat and the hol­i­days; space, in the form of the sa­cred space of the mishkan (Taber­na­cle), and later the Tem­ple.

Both con­cepts weighed heav­ily on my mind this month, fol­low­ing the wed­ding of my youngest son.

Time kept me pre­oc­cu­pied, as I was con­stantly in ab­so­lute won­der at how fast it re­ally does fly by, and at a loss as to where it all went.

Just yes­ter­day, it seems, I was writ­ing about The Youngest’s birth, and how we de­cided to call him Yair, ex­plain­ing to rel­a­tives in the US – ea­ger to know his English name – that it was “Il­lu­mi­nate,” which is a rough trans­la­tion of Yair. I rec­om­mended they just shorten it and call him “Nate.”

Just yes­ter­day, it seemed, The Youngest was an awk­ward ado­les­cent who grunted mono­syl­la­bles at his friends, who in pho­to­graphs hid his braces be­hind a ubiq­ui­tous closed-mouth smile. And now he was stand­ing un­der the hup­pah as a hand­some young man, con­fi­dent in him­self and the fu­ture, smil­ing at his bride broadly – flash­ing the straight, pearly white fruit of all those years of braces he tried so hard to hide.

Ma­jor life events stir many dif­fer­ent feel­ings. Where did the time go? is one of the strong­est.

My fa­ther speaks to me of­ten about ap­pre­ci­at­ing the mo­ment, en­treat­ing me to en­joy and rel­ish it be­cause it’s gone be­fore you know it. As he gets older, he speaks of this with in­creas­ing fre­quency.

I used to think that was pretty mun­dane ad­vice, the type that could be put on a poster show­ing crash­ing blue-and-white waves un­der an orange-and-red sun­set. But even clichés on posters can be very true.

Watch­ing my son dance like a whirling dervish at his wed­ding – and danc­ing as one my­self – I re­al­ized the ab­so­lute truth in what my dad said. But there is a cruel catch to it: I was en­joy­ing the mo­ment, ap­pre­ci­at­ing it, rel­ish­ing it, mind­ful of it, but then – even with all that – I re­al­ized it would still be gone in a flash.

Time goes – even if you are fully cog­nizant of it and ap­pre­ci­ate it might­ily – minute by minute, sea­son by sea­son, year by year, un­til, whoosh, the shy kid who didn’t want to let your hand go on his first day in preschool is leav­ing your home as a hus­band.

WHICH BRINGS me to that sec­ond cos­mic con­cept: space.

The Youngest’s mar­riage has changed my space. No longer will he au­to­mat­i­cally come to my home from the army, fill­ing my space with sounds and smells and his pres­ence: with piano play­ing, bongo drum­ming, phone call­ing, tele­vi­sion watch­ing, late-night cook­ing. Now he will take all that to his own home that he will share with his new wife.

Con­se­quently, my space will be qui­eter, emp­tier. He will in­ter­mit­tently fill it along with his broth­ers and sis­ter, his neph­ews and nieces, when they come over on Shab­bat and hol­i­days. But those days will be­come the ex­cep­tion, not the norm. That re­al­iza­tion sad­dened me.

But there is a pos­i­tive an­gle as well, The Wife re­minded me. “Don’t look at it as los­ing a son, but rather as gain­ing a closet,” she said, al­ways a mas­ter of pos­i­tive re­fram­ing. My space will grow.

For much of The Youngest’s life, I have strug­gled with the dilemma of where to put every­thing in our rel­a­tively small apart­ment. Where to put the kids, who gets which room, which chil­dren should share a room, where to cram ev­ery­one’s stuff.

In most of the world, peo­ple wait anx­iously for the com­ing of spring, which means sunshine and warmer weather. In our house we ea­gerly an­tic­i­pate the com­ing of win­ter, not only be­cause both The Wife (Chicago) and I (Den­ver) hail from cold climes, but also be­cause the win­ter frees up more stor­age space.

The blan­kets come out of the stor­age bins un­der­neath the beds, the heavy win­ter jack­ets stop tak­ing up all that room on the shelves – win­ter gives birth to more room.

As did The Youngest’s wed­ding. Once he takes all his stuff out of his room, I’ll have am­ple space to put all of mine.

The op­er­a­tive word, how­ever, is “once.” The Wife and I have al­lowed our two re­main­ing un­mar­ried kids – who share apart­ments with friends in Jerusalem – to con­tinue us­ing our home to park much of their be­long­ings. But shouldn’t the two mar­ried kids re­move all their pos­ses­sions and take them to their own homes?

The Youngest ac­tu­ally did so, less than a month af­ter his wed­ding. It was a bit­ter­sweet ex­pe­ri­ence watch­ing him clear out his closet and book­shelves. Bit­ter, be­cause he was clear­ing out his closet and book­shelves; sweet, be­cause he was clear­ing out his closet and book­shelves. Though I cov­eted his shelves, gain­ing them came at a painful price: his leav­ing my space.

When he cleared out all his stuff from the room he shared for so long with his brother Skippy, who got mar­ried some 18 months ear­lier, an­other truth was un­cov­ered: the Skip­ster had left a lot of his own pos­ses­sions in our house – stuff he didn’t want to throw out, but also didn’t want clut­ter­ing up his own home.

And that again led me to con­tem­plate philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions of time and space. How much time is it rea­son­able to give your chil­dren be­fore de­mand­ing they clear all their junk com­pletely out of your space?

Ma­jor life events stir many dif­fer­ent feel­ings. ‘Where did the time go?’ is one of the strong­est

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