Rabbi Allen S. Maller

God Gives, God Takes

God gives
but not forever.
God takes
opportunities away
after a while.

So don't hesitate or delay
or curse the darkness
while remaining mired in hopelessness,
because God gives;
and God takes away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.

But why bless the LORD when God takes away?
Because if the opportunities were always there,
we would wait until the time was right
and never make the leap,
and another year would waste away.
So each year God gives and God takes away
opportunities for a better year.

Deuteronomy 29:5 on Aging

I am not afraid of dying
But I am afraid of declining.
Forgetting a name or a word,
Waking up stiff with aches and pains,
Having to walk because I cannot run.
Not being able to do what I always could do,
Feeling betrayed by my body’s decline.

Then one Shabbat morning
As the Torah was being read
I heard these words from Deuteronomy 29
“For 40 years in the wilderness
your clothes did not wear out,
nor did your shoes wear out and fall off your feet” (29:5)

How could that be?
Everything decays and wears out.
Everyone declines, deteriorates and becomes decrepit.

Then suddenly I understood the Torah’s teaching.
Old age isn’t a one way street.
You can change from hiking briskly in the mountains
To walking slowly in the valley,
Looking at birds, flowers and trees.

You can still appreciate seeing and hearing
Even if not so sharply anymore.
You can still do a lot
If you do it unhurriedly.

If you understand the Torah’s teaching
You can spend even 40 years
In the wilderness of decline
Without wearing yourself out,
And falling off your feet.

What is an Angel?

Each individual
is like an angel
with only one wing
who can walk
and even run.

But joined
with a partner you trust,
you, a
partnered angel
can fly


Rabbi Allen Maller retired six years ago afterthirty-nine years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, CA.