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Mirrors and time

05/07/2020 11:12:43 AM


Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

In a typical morning, I would stumble about tending to my needs. It was a familiar routine that ended up in front of the mirror as I brushed my teeth and combed my hair. I would see the image for but a moment, recognizing the visage before me. I then got on with the day.
It is a ritual I have followed for years with nary a lingering thought. But now, as I Zoom and FaceTime and WhatsApp, I stare back at myself for lengthy episodes. It is no longer the rapid pace of oral hygiene, nor a quick fluff of my white locks. Rather, I am looking at myself, studying myself, gazing at myself seeing what others see all day and I used to see for but a fleeting minute at sunrise.
It is sobering and disturbing as Dorian Gray peers over my shoulder smirking. As technology leisurely connects me to davening, to programs, to friends and family I see wrinkles, baggy eyes, thinning hair glaring back in septuagenarian shrill affirmation. No longer is there a teenager before me, nor a twenty something, nor a baby boomer. I take notice of the real me on screen, yet protest what my eyes see and struggle to deny. The years have passed with astonishing speed and I have become who I have become.
Normally we progress through life with the precious gift of gradualism. Change is imperceptible until a revelatory jolt slows us down and we are forced to observe the truth. We are weathered, having travelled great distances. As we review the albums, the portraits and stare back at ourselves from unkind screens, begrudgingly we confess our mortality, our age and our need for repair work. We have been grabbed by our fraying collars and shaken up as never before. And so, as we stand before unflinching technology and a stubbornly honest mirror, we recognize what we don’t recognize. It is time for reflection.
Wed, June 3 2020 11 Sivan 5780