"The measure of our life.." "The span of our life..." "The days of our years..." Psalm 90 is just one example of our concern over how long a "good life" should be, could be. And this past week I thought about this a bit more than usual.

Theodore Bikel died at the age of 91; that to me is a good, long life. During his lifetime he packed in many worthy accomplishments as an actor, singer, writer, performer, activist. As a mensch, in so many ways. As I write this I listen to a YouTube video of his rendition of "Kretchma", a mix of music and humor. Next, a version of "If I Were a Rich Man," recorded when he was much older, but still full of his personality, his aplomb. I also glance at the cover of "Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs," a record album that my mom had from way back. I won't part with this charming, touching record especially now. That is a pretty good, impressive measure of a man's life.

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Bobbi Kristina Brown also died this week, but at the too-young age of 22. This poor kid lingered for a months in a coma. Many people even scoff at this young lady's death. I think that's coarse and rather unfair, but in any event, this girl's life seemed to be eclipsed by her famous parents (Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston) and her unfortunate last few months. Is that a measure of someone's life, to be viewed in light of scandal?


I also know a woman who died last Sunday, at the age of 46. She was a married mother of four children, two who have been friends of my older daughter since they were all in Pre-Kindergarten. This woman had earned a BA and an MA, and led a comfortable life in many ways. But she too was taken at too young an age. Is that a measure of life? If she had 10, 20 more years, she could have accompanied her children and her family on many more of life's experiences.

Is the summertime the wrong time to ruminate on death? Shouldn't I be focusing more on life?

How do we measure our years? In achievements and accomplishments? In how much joy or pain we partook? In the experiences or the possessions? We have just observed Tisha B'Av, the most mournful day of our calendar. It reminds us starkly that life is not all joy and laughter, and that summer can be quite heavy in tone.

Now it is time to get out there and live. Not frivolously, perhaps, but live meaningfully and hopefully.

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