Thursday, September 10, 2009


At the outset of this week's column, I find it important to answer a few questions from readers, if for no other purpose, than to set the record straight.

When this column began, it was written as a place for me to write, about many things. Some earlier writings (if they can still be found online) screamed of politically incorrectness, and laughed at many people, places and events; many of which we observe, and even participate in on a continual basis. Admittedly, I also was somewhat politically incorrect, and as this column has emerged, so I have, and while I continue and tend to lean more on life experiences, while keeping the content both here (in writing), in our newly forming Synagogue and other public places, as well as my private life, as "Rated 'Y' - for Yiddish, as possible, I am human, and continue to choose this forum to share important pieces of my life with you. I assure you that should our new Congregation, Emek haMidbar begin to send out newsletters, and I am asked to contribute as the Rabbi and Spiritual Leader, Those Divrei Torah will stand different from these. I continue to be happy to share these moments with you, my friends, as a glimpse into my heart and my life, which, as the name reflects, is far from normal. Normal IS indeed overrated. I've been there.


My father, Steve Abrams was born in Detroit, Michigan on August (8) first (1) = 9, Nineteen Hundred and Twenty Seven (9). He left us and Olam haZeh a year and a half ago, on January (1) eighth (8) = 9. Many times over our lifetimes, my sisters and I and our collective families have lived in homes, in which the addresses added up to nine. My mother was born on July (7) twentieth (2+0=2) =9.

Last night, on 09-09-09, the new Tim Burton film "#9" was shown in theatres across the globe at 9:09pm; and at our local AMC, the movie was projected in, obviously, auditorium... nine.

Ted Williams, the greatest of all Boston Red Sox wore number 9; The Red Wings all time superstar, Gordie Howe owned number nine, as did Sonny Jurgensen from the Redskins, Reggie Jackson (before he moved on to the Yankees), Roger Maris, who held the all-time home run record before it was broken by Mark Maguire wore number nine when he broke the record in 1961.

When I got home last night from working at the theatre, I had known that all day was September 9, but had never correlated September 9 with 09-09. Two years ago, September 9 was the last day that I spent with my family before being rushed to the hospital in respiratory failure, and the worst was not even to come for another two days, on September 11, Erev Rosh HaShana. So acutely aware was I that it has now been two years since I puffed on a cigarette; two years since my old life gave out; and two years since I looked up from an Emergency Room gurney and asked: Am I going to die tonight? So acutely aware, that I thought of little else for most of the day.

On September 19, 1919, my grandmother was born. 9-19-1919 - The numbers resonate even today. Its the easiest family birthday to remember! Still, for me, one of the most important days in all of my life was always just September 9, and not 09-09. Until yesterday.

Every time that I saw the date yesterday, nines came at me, almost as if in flight; My father's nines also came flying at me in droves of emotion and despair, despite the jubilation that I survived somehow, two years ago; despite it all.

When I got home, I decided that I absolutely have to write about nines this week; and not really for those reasons either, but because in nine days it will be Rosh HaShana, our New Year.

On Rosh HaShana, over a two day period, we will stand and silently reflect in our Amidah Prayers, nine times. We will hit our hearts with our fists on nine different occasions, and we will say the memorial Kaddish prayer nine times.

We will look at the letters that make up the Hebrew word for truth, אמת "emet",and remember that when we add the Aleph, Mem and Tav together, we come up with, you guessed it: nine; and the number of days between Rosh HaShana and Erev (eve of) Yom Kippur is, of course, 9.

Nine plus nine equals 18, which of course means life. If we are all luck enough to have "life times ten", that would equal 180, which, if added together, would equal nine. And last, but not least, on each day of Rosh HaShana, we will call up nine Aliyot to the Torah.

I remember now that we all have nine more days to make apologies. We have nine days left to take out our paper and draw our vertical columns and place the names into the column in which we believe them to belong, and nine days in which to make things right with those whom we have hurt.

If I might ask please, that each of you forgive me for any wrongs that I may have done to you in this past year.

Shabbat is but a day away. The thought alone brings goosebumps to my arms.

This Shabbat, I wish for you to achieve and gain...

Rest, Health, Family, Prayer, Grace, Friendship, Holiness, Love and finally Happiness.

From the Midbar that we call Arizona, I send Ahavah u'Vrachot. Love and Blessings for the last Shabbat of the year.

Rabbi Alan Abrams

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