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February 14, 2014 / Rabbi Laura



For several days now my St Baldrick’s campaign has been at $5858.00.

Seems like such a nice round number.  And, as Jews are want to do, I thought what does the number 58 signify?  Using gematria one can find meaning in numbers.  Each Hebrew letter holds a numerical value and when you put those together, sometimes you get interesting words.

50 = nun

8 = chet

58 = nach, or the root for the word comfort.

5858, really comfortable.

What does it mean to be comfortable?  To be confident in one’s place and position.  To know what to expect and to feel a sense that all is right in the world.

Each night, at almost exactly at 8 PM Cookie comes barking for her rawhide snack.  She is so predictable we can tell time by her attention-getting behavior.

Every Thursday at 6 PM our neighbor begins working in his yard. The leaf blower revs up and our dinner – should we be lucky enough to have an opportunity to sit together – is disrupted by the noise.

There is some comfort in the predictability of these occurrences each day and each week.

As I prepare to shave my head in 46 days (that number doesn’t really bring up something interesting), friends have made me really soft, comfortable hats.  Rick has helped me select a few for purchase, making sure they won’t be itchy or rough on my bald head. Comfort is something that I have been thinking about.

But, really, this is not about comfort.  My friends Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer are surely “being comforted” by friends and family and community on a daily basis.  But really, does raising $312,000+ in memory of their son Sam make everything right in the world.  No, of course not.

This is not about comfort.  Because sometimes comfort leads to complacency.


My commitment to shaving my head is about discomfort – about seeing something that is NOT right in the world and trying to change it.

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