Today is my 82nd birthday.
To think I’m that old is astonishing.
Or -- as Sean Spicer said
in yesterday’s press briefing about the relationship between Trump &
It’s fairly unbelievable.
No. It’s totally unbelievable.
Dame Judi Dench is 82.
As is Sophia Loren.
Dench sports white hair. Me, too.
Loren, big glasses. Me, too.
It’s a comfort to see that even famous, glamorous women
can eventually choose to say
Who gives a shit
(or, in Sophia’s case, Chi dà una merda)
and let Ma Nature take her course.
By the by, Julie Andrews is also eighty-two.
Knowing this is one of my favorite things . . .
Being the Rabbi’s Daughter, I had to see if Jewish text
had something to say about reaching the age of eighty-two.
And, since it’s all about numbers, gematria was my go-to source.
Gematria: a mystical system of assigning numerical values to the 22 letters of the
Hebrew alphabet, especially when used by Kabbalists to interpret Hebrew scriptures,
the calendar year, a person’s age and the like.
So get this.
The letter pey is the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
It’s numeric value is eighty.
It’s numeric value is two.
Together, pey and bet make eighty-two.
So far, so good.
Pey means mouth in Hebrew.
According to the mystic Kabbalists,
pey - by extension - also means word,
expression and speech.
If you look closely at the pey, you’ll see a hidden letter bet
which, in Hebrew, means house.
In Judaism we value the concept of Shalom Bayit.
Peace in the home.
A peace that comes from treating those who live under our roof
with respect and loving-kindness in both word and deed.
The sages teach us that the way we speak inside our homes
is generally the way we speak outside the home.
Our private conversations -- our choice of words, our tone --
are often reflected in public.
And conversely, the way we speak in public will often carry over and affect --
for good or ill -- the peace in our home.
Our Shalom Bayit.
On my eighty-second birthday I’m reminded that if I speak like a harpy in my house,
if I berate husband, family, guests or workpeople,
I'll speak like a harpy in the public square.
But if I speak kindness at home, I’ll speak kindness out in the world.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Or, as my Bubbie used to say,
What a child hears at home he repeats in the marketplace.
Poking around on Google, looking for people who were leading active,
interesting lives at my age,
I stumbled on a tightrope-walker named William Ivy Baldwin who,
on his 82nd birthday in 1948,
strung a special wire over a canyon in Eldorado Springs, CO,
kept his eyes straight ahead
and crossed the chasm without looking back.
That’s probably the secret.
Don’t look back.
Except, perhaps, at lessons my Bubbie taught me.
copyright 2017 Ozzie Nogg