Der mensch tracht un Gott lacht

My father and my brother both died at 61 of the heart condition that I also inherited. I am not going to die of that condition.

My mother died at 63 of cancer. I had cancer. I didn’t die.

Yesterday I turned 63 years and 3 months. I have outlived my family of origin.

Almost a year ago, I realized that this date had profound meaning for me. I overcame my worry that it was too morbid an idea and decided instead that it was time to celebrate the enormous blessings of my abundant life: a loving family, loyal friends, meaningful work and good health. 

I planned to celebrate Hanukkah Shabbat with a family dinner with our kids and grandboys to mark the auspicious date. I planned the menu with my kids’ favorites and got the groceries. On Wednesday morning, I started my chicken soup.

That’s as far as I got.

In Yiddish, the saying goes: Der mensch tracht un Gott lacht. Humans plan and God laughs.

That’s how it felt last night as I lay in flu-induced fever and exhaustion, listening to the chatter and laughter of Shabbat dinner downstairs. How ironic that I was celebrating good health and long life by spending every moment since Wednesday morning horizontal in my bed, except for a visit to the doctor and a stop for a Covid PCR (negative).

My daughter, Sarah, told me on Friday morning to stop worrying about it, that the kids would all make dinner. After my third text about how to set the table and which recipe of chicken to use, she sent me a gif of Frozen’s Elsa singing “Let it Go.” I let it go.

Sarah brought me up homemade vegetable soup just after candlelighting time that eased the tightness in my chest and soothed my soul better than any medicine. I hadn’t been able to light Chanukah candles or Shabbat candles with everyone. But I felt loved.

Still I spent the evening feeling quite sorry for myself. The good thing about the flu, however, is that I will heal speedily. As of this afternoon, I felt well enough to sit up in a chair and read. And tonight we lit Hanukkah candles for the seventh night together.

So the important date came and went. Maybe that is just as well. The bottom line holds true. I am grateful for this beautiful and precious life and I plan to enjoy it for another forty years at least.

Shavua tov and Chanukah sameach!

Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

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15 responses to “Der mensch tracht un Gott lacht”

  1. Leslie Cimino says :

    Sending lots of love to you and yours for now and for 2023!

  2. Joanne Richman says :

    So glad you are feeling better❣️🙏 Happy Chanukah!🕎🕎

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. carol says :

    Glad you are feeling better.

  4. Holly Rosenthal says :

    Rabbi Drill, hope you are feeling very better soon. You are very loved. Wishing you many, many more years of good health!

  5. Lydia Katz says :

    I Schep naches from your family so please keep posting. No flu can keep my Rabbi Drill down. Just got off face time with my Emma Lou in California as we sang and lit the candles together. Just know that I had company lighting candle # 1 and tonight and all the other nights I lit alone. But I know Lou was with me and as you also said I felt the love of my family. Feel better and take good care of yourself. You are loved by so many and important to lots of people. L’Hitraot.

  6. Suzy Trestyn says :

    I am so sorry that you have the flu, Rabbi Drill and missed the wonderful Chanukah Shabbat dinner with your children and grandchildren. I am grateful that you made it past the momentous day in your life and lived through very trying times. Anyone who knows you is very grateful for you and glad that you are on the other side of your health issues. I miss seeing you in person, but I am still grateful for the OJC and everyone there, especially the amazing Rabbis.
    Love, Suzy Trestyn

  7. Jay Rifkin says :

    Great story , an even better attitude about life and a beautiful family to celebrate with. Feel better and Happy Hanukkah to you and the entire Drill family. Jay and Ellen Sent from my iPad


  8. Karen Frank says :

    What a beautiful post. Ahh, life! We never know.

  9. Lita Mustacchi says :

    I am always grateful for your warmth and wissdom. I am so glad that you are feeling well enough to enjoy your family that surrounds you. Much love to you all. Lita M.

  10. Susan and Steven Danow says :

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and then time to celebrate good health and happiness together with family and friends!

  11. Beverly Wertheim says :

    Hi Rabbi Drill. I hope you are feeling better. I am reaching out because I know just how you feel. Each of my parents were 62 when they died four years apart. When I turned 63 I was so thankful I took my three closest friends out for a celebration lunch. Here I am 15 years later enjoying all I can. I can’t tell you how much we miss you and our entire OJC family. Wishing you and yours a very Happy and most important HEALTHY New Year. Sending lots of love, Beverly

    Sent from my iPad


  12. William Boehm says :

    Rabbi Drill, always rooting for you.

    Best regards Bill

  13. Ruth Raines says :

    Hi how wise to let it go and how true that is why we all have to live every day to the best of our ability and enjoy everything while we may. Love glad you’re feeling better.

  14. Ellen says :

    ‘Bis 120! ❤️

  15. Lorraine Spivak says :

    Dear Rabbi Drill, Happy to hear that you are on the path to a full recovery and….I wish you a year of NO MORE GLITCHES. Lorraine

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