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Our annual Congregational Meeting will take place in the Social Hall of TOL on Sunday January 25, 2015. Documents will be available for review starting at 2:00 PM. The meeting will begin at 2:30 PM.

Rabbi Joe's Weekly Message

Week of December 21

Rabbi Joseph Hample

Bucket List

The 2007 film The Bucket List introduced a new phrase to the language. We all have a list of things we want to do before we kick the bucket. In this week's Torah portion, Jacob discloses that the main item on his bucket list is to be reunited with his missing son Joseph (Genesis 45:28). After a long and arduous journey, he fulfills this dream (Genesis 46:29-30). We should all be so lucky.

At 58, I have outlived several of my old cronies and the prophet Samuel, who dies at 52 (Talmud Mo'ed Katan 28a). But I am barely an adolescent to the patriarchs, men who take longevity for granted. In our text, when a curious Pharaoh asks his age, Jacob complains: "Few and hard have been the years of my life" (Genesis 47:8-9). He is 130.

Whether our years are few or many, they are finite. We owe it to ourselves and our Creator to be all we can be, while there is time. Rabbi Eliezer's advice to repent the day before you die (Pirkei Avot 2:15) is not so much gallows humor as a summons to a meaningful life. What were you put on earth to do? None of us is indispensable, but each of us is unique. What can you do in a way no one else can do it?

Once I was a systems analyst at Wells Fargo Bank. But anything I might have done there, someone else can do just as well, if not better. I am bold enough to imagine that it is different in my present career. There are others who could do it better--much better--but there's something I bring to it that no one could duplicate. It happens to be a religious type of job, but you can honor God just as fully in a secular job, if only you give it all your individuality. You are not in this world to be like everyone else.

My bucket list is still growing. There are places I've never been, foods I've never tasted, long-lost friends I'd like to see one more time. There are household tasks I've never learned to do on my own. But the centerpiece of my bucket list was to become a rabbi. I've achieved that, and it wasn't even the day before I died.

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