B’raisheet: Genesis, Creation and the Challenge of Being Alone

Welcome to a new section of jewishsacredaging.com. The richness of our Torah is one that is discussed and studied in congregations and classrooms every week. This week, we begin again. “Parasha B’reisheet” brings with it drama and a wealth of lessons. It is our hope that we will look at each Torah portion for an insight or challenge that relates to Boomers, our families, and our own aging. We invite you send feedback and, if you want to try your hand at one of these, contact us at RabbiAddress@jewishsacredaging.com

One of the most pwerful passages in Torah comes to us from Chapter 2 verse 18. Adam is alone in Eden and God lets him know that “it is not good for man to be alone”. The Hebrew word there, “l’vado”, is a powerful little word. In this context, it does mean that Adam needs someone, a problem that is immediately solved. Yet, this sentence carries with it a deeper meaning, one that is very important for us as we age and for those of us who have cared for elder parents. One of the greatest fears that has been documented in study after study is the fear that we shall grow old and be alone. This existential alone-ness is something that we need to be aware of. We know people who have grown older, perhaps outlived spouse, siblings, friends and even, God forbid, children. Many of us have visited nursing homes to see people “alone”, isolated and cut off from the world.

Studies have shown that this alone-ness leads to depression. These same studies have shown that, as we age, social relationships play a key role in having someone respond to life in a positive manner. The power of personal relationships is something that we need to keep in mind as we, and our own parents age.
We have posted numerous articles on the jewishsacredaging Facebook page that document how on-going social contacts and relationships; from volunteering to religious service attendance, actually extend life. None of us wish to be “alone”, feeling cut off from life, meaning and purpose. It is a challenge for many of us who see people, sometimes people we know, who have lost a sense of meaning, of “having a reason to get out of bed in the morning”. Congregations can play a huge role in this, and many are, in developing programs that keep in contact with people who may be house bound or without a support system.

This little word, “l’vado”, speaks to so many and to the need to keep us open to new relationships and opportunities. It is not good for us to be alone.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min

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