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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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It’s My Opinion: Swallowed Up

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Last week a shocking incident occurred in Central Florida. Jeffrey Bush, a 36-year old resident of Tampa, was asleep in his family home. Suddenly, a 20-foot-sinkhole opened up under him. Bush awoke. He screamed for help as he, his bed and the furnishings of the room were swallowed up.

Brother Jeremy heard the cries and ran to help. He jumped in to pull out Jeffrey, but it was too late. Everything was gone.

Rescue workers found no signs of life. The sinkhole was unstable and growing. Officials deemed the structure to be unsafe and extremely dangerous. Engineers were called to demolish the house.

Jeffrey Bush is presumed dead under the rubble. His brother and wife and baby daughter miss him dearly. He has been swept away.

The idea of the earth opening and consuming either people or property is truly horrific. It is an event of biblical magnitude. It brings to mind the story of the aftermath of the Korach rebellion.

Unfortunately, there are many among us who are swallowed up and unavailable to their loved ones and do not even have a sinkhole to blame. The frenzied pace of life in our times often creates overscheduled, overbooked and overextended individuals who want to have it all. Their marathon is the rat race.

There are business, social and civic obligations. There are meetings, coffees and teas. There are breakfasts, brunches, luncheons and dinners. They go from early morning to late at night, but fail to get ahead. They are on a merry-go-round.

There are families that almost never have a meal together. There are children who rarely see their father or mother. There are couples who connect in fleeting glances en route to activities.

Traditional Shabbat observance has always been a saving grace for Jewish families. It has served as a quintessential oasis of rest and refreshment and an antidote for the stress of life. However, even this special day has, in many cases, been compromised.

Exhausted parents hurry through Friday night dinner anticipating a good night’s sleep. Little ones who have largely been ignored during the rush of the week often vie for attention. Unfortunately, tantrums and tears often follow.

Shabbat day can also be problematic. Adults crave a long nap. Children want to visit the park. Tempers fray. Patience wears thin. Often older siblings, Shabbat groups in the synagogue or Saturday babysitters take up the slack. Soon the sun sets, Havdalah is made and the hectic cycle continues.

There are pivotal moments that should grab our attention. The awareness of the fragility of life is just one of them. A person being sucked into a sinkhole may be an extremely rare occurrence, but sudden heart attacks, strokes or accidents are not.

Life is short. Use it well.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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