Posts Tagged ‘empty nest’

A Love Letter to My College Bound Son

Friday, April 12th, 2013

IMG_8800SMby Sam Glaser

Dear Max,

I just booked our Summer family vacation in Lake Tahoe. It will be an amazing place to spend a week…serious mountain biking, hiking and water skiing. As excited as I am I can’t help but be a bit melancholy. I have had the great gift of being your dad for the past 18 years. You are a superstar kid and have given me nothing but nachas (Jewish joy.) I celebrate the fact that you are entering your college years with so much enthusiasm and readiness to take on the world. I believe in you, Max. There’s nothing you can’t do.

So yes, it’s our last family vacation with all of us together for a while. Too soon we’ll have our last family dinner, our last Shabbat, a rockin’ graduation party and you’ll be off to camp and then the Holy Land. What a gift to have a year in Israel before college kicks off. Dreamy. I think some parents of teens are ready to see their kids hit the road. I’m not one of those parents. I love spending time with you. My greatest memories are the time we’ve spent together. We’ve had amazing adventures, deep musical connections, great conversations. I dig all your friends and love the fact that the gang comes over every Shabbat afternoon. I have great joy being your music teacher and getting to see you grow on the guitar in Jazz Ensemble and rockin’ Pro Tools in our recording technology class. I love watching your mom look at you with unfathomable love in her eyes.

In fact, everyone that I know that has ever met you only has great things to say about you. That’s a pretty rare thing. I’ve never seen leadership ability like yours. You’ve had it all your life. You are totally comfortable in every situation that you find yourself. On my concert tours on which you’ve joined me you are connecting with the synagogue youth whether it’s Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. Your teachers and rabbis rave about you. I get to watch you every year on the Pesach programs that I lead. Mom and I just gasp at how the entourage gravitates to you and how when you move on, they move too!

You are so at ease with yourself and remarkably you wear your confidence without pushing anyone down. Working the crowd without having to be the joker or the troublemaker or the scammer. Clearly you have learned only the good side of the things from your devious dad. Other than driving too fast. You are incredible with kids and are a beloved cousin, counselor and mentor. You are so open and loving with those “specially-abled.” You are so totally there for your four beautiful grandparents. You are a wizard on the guitar, with the computer, with just about anything you do. You have gotten school wired and should have so much pride that you have excelled more and more every year, on every report card and are busting out nearly straight A’s your senior year. Do you see a certain trajectory here?

And now you’re off to the Promised Land. Oooooh you are so lucky. It is such a wild, beautiful, exciting place. A place where holiness is flowing in the very air you breathe. The opportunity for connection is so powerful and present. You will be in an amazing growth environment with rabbis and peers that will support you into your own spiritual flight. Starting your post high school educational and professional life with Jewish fundamentals makes so much sense. After all, whether you become a hedge fund manager, psychologist or rock guitarist, you will have a serious foundation in place. I first got turned on in Israel when I was just a bit older than you. I was totally ready to do great things in my life and my heart was open. It may be hard to believe but you will become even more open as you put teenage angst, LA hype and living with your parents behind you. Yes, you can spend the year partying, but if you can find the discipline you will come out of this year with a passion to maximize every moment of your time, becoming more creative, productive and the master of your destiny.

There are a few things I’ve been thinking about now that you are launching into your official Israel gap year, a tradition, thank God, for most of the young people in our community. I’m so happy that you have my brother Yom Tov and Leah and their amazing eight kids to hang out with on a regular basis. Please bond deeply with all of your cousins. They miss you so much. They have been deprived of having you in their life and deserve to get their fill of you. You will blow them away and I know that they will see what a towering mensch (real human) you are. I’m getting weepy as I write this. I’m so proud of you, Max. I love you so much. You are such a credit to our family, a living testimony that mom and I did pretty good job with you. You are an extension of us to the world. We will be living vicariously through your adventures. Please keep us posted!

You are already a powerful ambassador for the Jewish People. Everyone who sees your kippah feels your good vibe and feels good about the heritage you represent. Do you understand what an intense Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) that is? You will likely ramp up your commitment in Israel. It’s true that many “frum out” there but not just on the surface. You just feel God’s presence so powerfully through your learning and holy lifestyle that you would never ever do anything to mess it up. You do mitzvahs not because your parents or rabbis expect something out of you. The motivation comes from an outpouring of intense love for your relationship with God. The relationship becomes palpable. Why would you ever mess up your best friend in the Universe?? You will be driven by sweet longing and unspeakable gratitude for your life and everyone you meet will be deeply attracted by the light that you radiate. Yes, you!

You also know from your hyperactive father that our Judaism doesn’t mean you have to sit on your butt and study all day. Judaism means that you are out in the world, spreading light. Yes, we’re an Orthodox family, but we ski and surf and vacation and travel and drink in everything that life has to offer. Except non-kosher wine, of course. I give you permission to get on a bus to Eilat the moment your neshama (soul) tells you you need a break. Go spend some time underwater… learn to scuba dive (as your chassidic cousin Avrami just did), mountain bike, climb, play beach volleyball (my captain of the YULA Volleyball Team!) When you have a l’chaim please have a round for your old dad back in LA – and have a designated driver.

I hope you can get to the Old City as often as you are able. Catch as many minyanim (services) at the Kotel (Western Wall) as you can. It’s the center of the universe! Try your hand at bargaining in the Arab shuk. You’ll get a kick out of Yom Tov’s 10:00am daily lecture at Aish, in a spectacular room overlooking the Temple Mount. Your zany uncle catches major air on his mountain bike as he flies down the Arab Quarter steps. He gets to his class out of breath and addresses an unusual group of hippies, deadheads, Harvard grads and grandparents with an unscripted flow of whatever is on his mind. Anyone can come to his class and it would give him great nachas to see you there. Remarkably our yeshiva, Aish Hatorah, has become the number one outreach address in the world. It has the biggest Jewish website in the world. It brings over more young people to Israel to learn than any organization in the world. I’m not saying your should ditch your program in Mevaseret but I hope you can wander the Rovah (Jewish Quarter) and get to know my old Aish rabbi friends that will be excited to meet you.

Speaking of Aish, as you know we’ve been members of Aish LA since you were born. There are plenty of other synagogues that we go to and love, but Aish is our home. It’s where you crawled around every Shabbat, where you boys had your Bar Mitzvahs, where you rock the teen minyan. What you’re going to discover is that it’s more than just a shul. It’s a movement. You’re a part of it whether you realize it or not. You have seen me and your mother dedicate much of our time, money and effort towards making sure that every Jew we meet has the chance to get excited about Judaism. It’s why you’ve had strangers at a good percentage of your Shabbat meals. It’s why I leave you to go on the road every other weekend. We love sharing our heritage and it breaks our heart when our fellow Jews throw it away.

In my secular upbringing, I was raised with a devotion to Israel and the Jewish People but had no experience keeping kosher, davening (praying) or respecting Jewish law. It’s sad when you think about it. We had no idea what we were missing. Can you imagine your life without ever sukkah hopping? Partying up and down Pico on Purim? Surrounding yourself in the 24 hour feast that is Shabbat? We didn’t even know how to say the Shmoneh Esrai (central Jewish prayer.) Worse yet, we didn’t have clarity on God’s presence in our lives and the power of Torah to keep our act together. Thank God both your mom and I had great parents who gave us plenty of love and values. But we were in a free form “what the hell is this life all about” mystery and forced to explore the cultures of the world to find answers. Yes, there are lots of interesting answers out there, but not the fundamental truth that we celebrate in our own texts.

After my whirlwind four months in yeshiva the first time around, my mind was completely blown. I had amazing and patient guides to teach me and was mature enough to make my Yiddishkeit (Judaism) my own. I was so taken with Israel and the commitment of the people that I met there that upon returning to LA I started a Jewish library so that I’d have books to keep me connected. I became an advocate for Orthodoxy even though I wasn’t quite living it myself. I took “baby steps.” Shortly after I got back my friends started getting married. Most of my buddies with whom I grew up married non-Jews. Most of them didn’t bother getting them to convert. Our vast, 3500-year odyssey ended with them, the chain of Jewish transmission broken. They have kids who have no connection to their heritage and if they ever do connect, will have to jump through hoops to become Jewish.

I knew at that point I had to be part of the solution. I started writing Jewish songs. I met your mom and started doing Shabbas. After another trip to Israel I started wrapping tefillin and davening three times a day. Along the way I got my brothers to study over there and thank God two of them became Aish rabbis and have changed the lives of literally thousands of people. I know it’s hard for you to imagine your bubbie eating treif (non-kosher food.) She only started keeping kosher because some of her kids wouldn’t eat in her home and her reaction was, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Now she has sixteen Jewish grandkids who love their heritage and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m telling you all this so that you understand that it’s nothing short of a miracle that we are on this path and that nothing would get in our way of giving you this rich Jewish life that has so nourished you. Yes, Jewish day school has left us broke. But we feel like we’ve won the lottery.

Not to overdo the accolades for our shul but I think it’s important to point out to you that the outreach revolution began with one man, Rav Noach Weinberg, zit’s, who had a vision and would not be defeated. He tried and failed several times establishing yeshivot. I think Aish is number seven. King Solomon in Proverbs tells us that the righteous fall seven times but always get back up. Thanks to Rav Noach’s tenacity, we have the incredible life that we do. Please learn from his example, Max. The sky is the limit. Dream big. Get back up when you fail. Depression is not an option. Just get back on the horse and try again. Know with perfect clarity that Hashem is with you. The days we have on this planet are too few to waste feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and get moving. Your face and your mood are public property. Don’t pollute the world with a scowl. Rav Noach always had a sweet smile for everyone and fought with grace until the end of his days. Keep the good attitude, keep the faith, keep smiling and the world will smile with you.

I hope that in your study you’ll find that there is no divide between our spiritual life and material life. We can make money in a holy way. We ski at the speed of sound because it nourishes and refreshes us. We eat only after we thank God for the miracle of our food. We are intimate with our wives and as a result deepen our marital bonds and bring holy children into the world. Living in the realm of Torah doesn’t make you a recluse or weird. You have a gift that you can share with Jews of all stripes. You have a gift that you can share with all nations. They don’t need us to try so hard to be like them. They are blessed by blessing us. Those whom you meet throughout your life will be fascinated by your story, by the things that make you different. In this politically correct world no one is allowed to “dis” people because they are different. We can use that to our advantage. We can be the best Jews we can be, living in the world, interacting and influencing and serving as a Kiddush Hashem, perhaps the highest of all mitzvot. Along the way you may meet some people who are not so excited about the Jewish People. You don’t have to be so excited about them either.

I’m telling you all this so that you get some perspective of what you are getting yourself into. This trip you are taking is not just for you or your family. Your learning is for K’lal Yisrael (the Jewish People,) for all the nations, for all those martyrs who perished in the Holocaust and other times of persecution. It’s to empower you to become a shining example of a great Jewish man, a spiritual leader that will help to bring back our disenfranchised brothers and sisters. You are truly learning when you are able to teach that particular subject. I hope you learn in order to teach. I hope you understand that it’s selfish to be complacent, to be self-satisfied while there are so many unaffiliated Jews that have no concept of the diamonds in their hands. I’m not saying you have to join any particular shul or movement. I’m just saying that you have a very unusual family and very serious passion in your veins that you have inevitably inherited. Yes, you are going to Israel to study, travel, party and make lifelong friends. You are also going to get a sense of the importance of your life’s mission, beyond just earning a living and raising a family. It’s your turn now, my beautiful son. I pray that you’ll use your vast abilities to be a hero for the Jewish people, to continue to be the powerful role model that you already are.

So, my dear Max, there’s my shpiel. There are some other things I want to discuss…we’ll save them for the next jacuzzi. Please try to break away from the computer to have a few more jams, oshkibunis (walks) and conversations with me. I treasure every minute we have together. Your friends will come and go over the course of your life…your family is forever. Make these few months meaningful. Hug your mom frequently. Try to imagine a world where she’s not cooking for you, driving you everywhere, feeding your friends, doing your laundry, making you ice chai just the way you like it. Start listing all the things she means to you and see where the resulting burst of gratitude leads you.

Please try to give love to your sister. She needs you. She needs your hugs and your compassion. She is going to miss you so much. She will be crying real tears of grief when she doesn’t have you around. You may think she’ll be fine but I promise that the gravity of the fact that you are gone for so long will profoundly affect her. You have this precious time to leave an impression. Regarding your brother Jesse, you already know that he adores you, looks up to you and so values your companionship. You guys are best friends and that fact alone has me crying again. He may not be able to express the intense bond he shares with you, but trust me, it informs his being. You have created big shoes for him to fill. You have set the bar high. Give him love and honor. Build him up and avoid words that tear him down. May you always take great pleasure in his successes in life and may he always celebrate yours.

I love you Max, Ze’ev Dov ben Shmuel, my pidyon haben, my beautiful, precious son.


Bumps Along the Road: The Other Lifecycle Events

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

by Sam Glaser

Everybody knows about the famous ones: bris, baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage and funerals.  This month’s column is a segue from last month’s report on the miraculous nature of the bris and is dedicated to certain overlooked milestones that are equally a part of life.  All cultures celebrate rites of passage. In the US we have graduations, sweet 16’s, getting a driver’s license, and the holy grail, reaching drinking age.  As a parent I’ve noticed that once you have kids there are a few other significant transitions that are rarely discussed.

The first is when your kids start nursery school. For some parents this is a tremendous relief…you have a few hours of the day to go back to sleep or get some errands done.  For me it was traumatic.  I run a recording studio behind our house and I loved having young Max co-engineer with me.  He would man his own mixing console, paint, draw and scribble and crawl around looking for bugs to eat.  I loved being the sole source of his nutrition, education and influence. That is – other than the times when his nosy mother or grandparents would butt in.  Then that terrible day arrived.  I grabbed my camera and shot pictures as he confidently strode down the street with his oversized yarmulkah and new backpack.   His mom then drove him to the beginning of the first of his 17 years of education and I laid down on the couch and wept.

Now Max would be subjected to the reign of terror of underpaid, overworked teachers, brutal peer pressure, teasing and bullies.  He was so happy when he came home that day, bubbling over with an enthusiastic report of all the new experiences.  I fished for information regarding any mistreatment or how badly he might have missed hanging out with me.  Nope.  I remember his sharing a new work of art he created and then my wife telling me to get over it.

The next underreported milestone is becoming

“reproductively irrelevant.”  I always envisioned having four kids. Four is a nice, round number, I grew up in a family with four boys and I felt like four meant you were a real parent. Also, one of our favorite rebbetzins used to lecture us on the importance of Jews having large families to undo the damage of Hitler’s taking 1.5 Million of our kinderlach.  I love the sweet adventure and mystery of pregnancy and birth.  Of course that’s easy for me to say.  I tried to participate in everything, from birth coaching to feeding and the changing diapers.  I even got to dispense the milk my wife would laboriously pump.

After Sarah, our third child was born, my wife kept breastfeeding for years.  I suspected she was trying to delay the onset of her period and thereby avoiding getting pregnant yet again.  Perhaps she was trying to hold on to that feeling of closeness with her daughter.  By the time we got back to business it became clear that God had other plans. After the third miscarriage we were resigned to accept the gift of our three children and the completion of our family.  The problem is that try as I might, I could not move on.  To this day I find myself going straight for whichever baby is within arms reach at our synagogue and singing baby songs in spite of the pronounced distress of my adolescent children.  I am secretly envious of the stroller set, hungry for the days of portable children that don’t say no.

I knew I needed some help to let this inner ache go away and made an appointment to speak to my rabbi.  I don’t remember his exact advice but it was something like, “man up, move on and count your blessings” or something like that.  I bear him no malice; he is a righteous man that has better things to do, like counseling childless couples.  I eventually got used to the idea that sex no longer had anything to do with reproduction.  I also had to get used to the return of my wife’s cycle and the joy of separating half of each month. Arrrgh!

The next lifecycle event came on the heels of our last child becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Sarah turning 12 means that Max is a senior in high school. Yes, my friends, the empty nest phase is approaching. We are now in the midst of SAT’s, college applications and researching yeshivot in Israel.  Last month he went on his senior trip in which the class goes to Israel to see firsthand the top fifteen academies that are recommended for their gap year of study. This is all very exciting for Max.  But it’s a bit heartbreaking for me. Our official annual vacation this last January was our last as a whole family, at least for the foreseeable future. Next year he won’t be with us for Pesach.  Or High Holidays or Chanukah for that matter.  We won’t enjoy his brief appearance at dinner every night.  And Jesse, who is only a year-and-a-half younger soon will be following in his footsteps. I’m getting weepy writing this.  I know I should be stoic and matter of fact.  But I will leave that for my wife, who wears the pants in the family. (Actually I wear the pants, but she tells me which pair.)

The bottom line is that there are plenty of micro-milestones that are under reported but highly impactful in any parent’s life.  More are on the way: a completely empty nest, menopause, college graduations, weddings (God willing!), grandparenthood and avoiding senility.  No one prepares you for this life when you are a teen and think you are going to live forever.  The only constant in life is change.  And riding this roller coaster with your sanity intact requires a good spouse and good spiritual guidance, or at worst, self medicating or becoming a hermit.  Or there’s another way: live the life of a rock star and never grow up.

Just know that if I ever beeline for your babies, I mean no harm.  I’m a perpetual kid and a loving dad trying to get a fix of the dreamy feeling of having an infant falling asleep on my shoulder.  Last week a friend’s kid was on my lap playing with my tzitzit and drooling on my suit, laughing as I sang “Swinging,” “Pony Boy” and “Run Away.”  I know my wife shares my desire that our kids do the “be fruitful and multiply” mitzvah sooner than later so that we can enjoy what my parents consider the ultimate pleasure: being a grandparent.  May we enter our golden years with health and love for each other, filled with the wisdom that only comes from surviving these bittersweet bumps along the road.

Better Run Away

Monday, February 28th, 2011
by Sam Glaser  

max partyMany a morning I bask in the sunlight on our front porch surrounded by fragrant jasmine, birds of paradise and bougainvillea. It’s my power spot for the Shachrit prayers.  I’m bound up in my tefillin, enveloped in my tallit and connected to the Source of all creation. This sunny spot conceals me just enough from the few passersby on our quiet street but some know to look for me and wave as I shuckle back and forth.  Our new neighbors have two adorable kids, the oldest a loquacious, blonde three-year-old with a favorite game. While I daven I can’t help but notice him try, often successfully, to run away from the house and down the street as his nanny panics and bolts after him.  Every time he gets a little farther and she freaks out a bit more.

We did the same thing with our dad.  We’d stand in front of his comfy leather easy chair and he’d trap us between his knees saying, “run away!”   We’d wait for the trap to open and before we could charge out of his grasp he’d grab us with his enormous hands and whisk us right back where we started.  Every third or fourth time we’d actually escape, sometimes with too much velocity and crash to the floor.  We’d pick ourselves up, stop laughing and try it again.

Of course I performed the same shenanigans with my own precious offspring and when they grew bigger, made an art form out of chasing them around the house.  Any Soap Soup fans know well our game of Better Run Away (Before I Grab You) as codified in the song by the same name.  The kids know that when I catch them I freeze and count, “five, four, three, two, RUN,” giving them time to escape.  As they grew older and could outrun me I devised a corollary to the game called Anger Bottle.  I drink most of the water out of a 12 oz. plastic bottle and then huck it at them with all my

sam bday cakemight.  It has to have just enough water to serve as ballast for a good throw but be empty enough that it scares the pants off them when it strikes the wall just behind where their heads were moments before.  I scream insults at them in my best Pirate tongue and we run until we’re too sweaty or until someone gets hurt. Many neighborhood friends come over specifically to have me terrorize them with my handy Arrowhead.

I’m writing this month’s essay about the evolution of this chase because I feel like the rules are shifting once again.  Now my kids are running away from home.  As far from their parents as they can get.  They aren’t quite cutting the cord completely.  But the stage is set for their inevitable escape.  I left home at seventeen.   I was fiercely independent and confident, with a love for the world, people and adventure and blithely left my three brothers and dear parents to deal with the impact of my disappearance from the family dynamic.  I was busy with Berklee College of Music, new friends and summer piano jobs in Montana and Greece.  I never stopped loving and appreciating my family, but I did so with occasional calls and postcards from the road.  My son Max is sixteen. The writing is on the wall.

I remember when it was clear to Shira and me that God did not plan on giving us any more children.  I had to make an appointment with my rabbi to share my distressed feelings of leaving the reproductive years behind.  I never stopped loving babies and still grab them any time there’s a willing parent.   My wife made it clear that the store was closed and I felt like I was just getting started!  I have a hunch that this melancholy will not hold a candle to the advent of empty nest.  I love the metaphor of the archer…as parents we pull the bow back with all our might and aim it to the best of our ability. Then we launch our beloved offspring on a lofty trajectory and PRAY for a good landing.  That sounds nice in theory…but right now I’m desperately holding on to every hike, every trip to the mall, every conversation at Coffee Bean.

My next CD is called Father’s Day.  It’s about being a dad, loving my own dad, the passage of time and the bitter sweetness of our lives.  Yes, I’m trying to get it out on the market before Father’s Day.  I have a line in one of the songs that sums up this new chapter: “I could hold your hand in front of all your friends, then I became an idiot.”  Max is hiding more.  Creating his own sense of self away from the shadow we cast.  Welcoming anywhere from

max mariachi10-25 friends over every Shabbat afternoon and hinting not to subtly that I find my own friends to play with.  He looks so damn handsome and has such a winning smile.  But that smile is more often reserved for his peers and if I want a conversation I have to bribe him with an occasional fancy meal or force him on an outing.  Even then I don’t have his full attention; I’m trying to teach him that it’s not OK to text while in a conversation with a live human.  He tries to comply until an “important” message comes through.

Jesse, my fourteen year old, is affectionate and demonstrative.  He’s as easy going as Max is willful.  He insists that he is going to be a rich doctor and build us a guesthouse for our retirement on his expansive property.   This too will change.  In fact, on our way to a recent family friend’s bar mitzvah, Jesse warned my wife and me that we were not allowed to dance.  Max chimed in, “don’t even talk.”  Thankfully Sarah was willing to party with us while her brothers cowered in shame.

I’m grateful that my kids still beg for bedtime stories.  I make them up every night from scratch; fully realized adventures, mysteries, business sagas and tales of spiritual rendezvous.  They each give me two random nouns that I must somehow incorporate into the story line.  I accept this challenge in order to keep their curiosity piqued throughout the fifteen minutes of drama. I owe them a dollar if I forget their word and I rarely mess up.  This past year Max stopped asking for stories and no longer will volunteer words.  A few nights ago I caught him underneath his covers with his headphones on during an especially intricate tale.  Like I said, the times they are a-changing.

By now you are probably wondering why I am taking you down this lonely road.  Of course, there’s a lesson in this and it’s acutely applicable at this time of the year.  You see, my friends, we are now entering Adar sheni, the final month in the Jewish calendar. This is the season when we heighten our joy and celebrate Jewish Mardi Gras, otherwise known as Purim.   We then launch into the first of the biblically numbered months, Nissan, during which we experience the week of Passover.  The Jewish year begins with the commemoration of the Exodus, reliving the plagues, splitting of the sea and revelation at Sinai.  Pesach is the holiday of homecoming and rebirth and logically occurs in the springtime.  We return to our infancy as a nation when we witnessed nine months of plagues and then were carried like a baby through the dangers of the desert, depending on God’s constant beneficence for our survival.

On the other hand, the megilah or scroll of Esther that we read on Purim is the only book in the canon that does not mention the name of God.  And yet God is surreptitiously operating behind the scenes in the formation and then foiling of Haman’s genocidal plot.  The word Purim refers to the game of chance that the villain in the saga employs to determine the date of our extinction.  This eternal tale leaves the reader with the option of perceiving either chance or the hand of God at each turn of events.  So too can we learn to see God’s presence in our own lives, both at times of turmoil and triumph.  In other words, when we reach spiritual maturity, when seemingly random events occur we might remark, “large world, well managed,” rather than, “it’s a small world.”

The Jewish year begins with revelation and ends with concealment.  Moses is God’s agent in bringing the Shechina down to earth and Esther’s name has the word “to hide” at its root.  Jewish history takes us on a journey from vulnerability in the desert to the formation of a people capable of agriculture, Talmudic discourse, defense and technology.  We spent an extra thirty-nine years in the desert because we didn’t want to leave the womb.  Our lives progress from dependence on our parents (and our Parent in heaven) to independence and as Stephen Covey would insist, ideally to interdependence where we grasp our role in the greater society.

In 1990 my father’s company went bankrupt.  This was a serious rupture in our family’s security and this forty-year enterprise was my dad’s raison d’être.   It’s highly likely that his four boys would have gone into the business. Instead, I became a full time musician and fell in love with my Judaism, eventually marrying the two in this unusual career of mine.  Two of my brothers became popular rabbis and the other brother is now a well-respected lawyer.  We don’t have the silver spoon in our mouths anymore and I think that’s a good thing.  We’ve had to fight for every last nickel and we’ve learned the value of hard work and perseverance.

In the desert we enjoyed manna from heaven and in Israel we had to perform backbreaking labor to cultivate our crops.  Adam was commanded to work and guard the Garden of Eden, not recline in a lounge chair drinking mai-tais.  To have any sense of pride and accomplishment, my children must strike it out on their own and wean themselves from the open tap of our generosity.  I fully understand the importance and inevitability of this process but I don’t have to like it.

The consolation for parents of teens is that yes, they will move out of our homes but not our lives, and that God willing, grandchildren will follow! Now when I look around my Shabbas table I am poignantly aware that in the ensuing years there will be empty places.  This sensation of always being in high demand as they compete for my attention will wane.  OK…I’m getting depressed again! I wish I had a freeze frame or at least a slow motion button on the video of my life.   Life is so good.

I’d like to offer my loyal readers the blessing that “those that

Glasers Hawaii sow in tears will reap with joy.”  Treasure your challenges and strive to see God’s loving hand in every facet of your life.  Take your spouse out on a regular date night so that when the house empties out you remember what one another looks like.  And in the immortal words of the psalmist, James Taylor, “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel, things are going to work out fine if you only will.”