A month and a day after the car accident that mangled my right hand, I hosted a Seudah Hoda’ah, a Feast of Thankfulness/Gratitude. Our tradition suggests that after surviving something life-theratening, we should recite the Gomel prayer in synagogue (which I did 10 days after the accident) and contribute to tzedakah.
The Seudah is another opportunity to give thanks, and I asked that people bring no gifts, no flowers, no wine, no nothing; just a check for any amount to the tzedakah of my choosing: Generosity Water, which builds wells in communities with no access to fresh water. Had I known when I set the date for the Seudah that I still would not have even a semi-functional hand, I might have put it off. But I made vegan Mac and Cheese (one-handed, requiring my husband to drain the pasta), Asian broccoli slaw with edamame and almonds (must include this in my vegan book I’m working on–it went like wildfire!), and we heated up veggie corn nuggets. Comfort food. Dessert was store-bought pareve chocolate covered almonds and peanuts.
It wasn’t a fancy affair. I even compromised my environmental neuroses and used paper products. I didn’t sweep up or put all the kids’ toys away like I normally do. I didn’t even have the strength to shower before the event. It felt not quite right to not hostess like I typically do, but I have been learning from this accident to lower all expectations and just deal with it.
I didn’t invite all my friends and their kids because I knew having a ton of kids would be hard to manage, but my manager, lawyer, publicist, and Kelsey, my hair and make-up artist came (the well was a project she had been working on which I attached myself to). My parents came and a few friends, and of course, Fancy Assistant Brandon. People brought significant others and it was very relaxed.
After we made a motzi (blessing over bread), people got food and I made a speech. I painstakingly made an outline with my left hand and I thanked my husband for helping make it all happen: the draining of the pasta, setting up 25 chairs, rearranging all of the furniture in our small home and all. I thanked Brandon for being–literally–my right hand man, and I thanked Kelsey for sharing her tzedakah project with me.
The Dvar Torah (sermon) I gave focused on the parsha (torah portion) for the Torah reading in synagogue this past Shabbat. Moses prepares the Jewish people for entering Israel with the commitment to continue on the path of our destiny for further blessing, and we are reminded that our leader who brought us out of Egypt and through the desert and who is the greatest Prophet the world has ever seen and will ever see is not entering the Land of Israel with us.
I noted two things:
1. Arriving somewhere does not mean discarding everything that got you there. Sustaining faith, belief, and tradition despite living a life of freedom, luxury, and liberty is a foundation of Judaism.
2. Moses did what he did to usher his people to their Homeland. It wasn’t for him. It was for his children, his children’s children, and the future of the Jewish nation.
These points inspire me daily, and especially now. I intend to sustain myself with the same things that helped me get here. And although I hope I get wonderful places with God’s help, I am committed to leaving my mark even in places I will never even get to set foot on.