Other Side of the Bench by David Seidemann


I heard the bee buzzing and felt it work its way into my shoe. I then felt it on the top of my foot. It was trapped in my shoe, and I knew the inevitable was about to happen. It was so frustrating because I knew that if I could just reach into my shoe, I could dislodge the insect poised to cause me pain. I had that sense of hopelessness of knowing that something painful is about to happen but being powerless to prevent it. It seemed like the episode lasted for hours, though I’m sure it was but a matter of seconds. Worse than the pain was that feeling of captivity.

And then I woke up. It was all a dream.

But here is the strange thing. My right foot hurts. As I sit behind my desk writing this article, not just my foot, but my entire right leg hurts as if I had been stung by that bee. Such is the power of the mind and the power of suggestion. Perhaps that’s why we go out of our way to tell everyone we see over the next few days, “Our wish is that you be inscribed in the Book of Life,” because that mere expression of a wish, a hope, a dream can be realized, can be felt, as a result of simply thinking it and wishing it upon our neighbor.

As I watched the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House, it reinforced the belief that peace is only elusive to those who are not at peace with themselves. Former presidents beat their heads against the White House walls trying to broker peace with people who simply don’t want peace. No matter how many times it has been offered to them, no matter in which format, with concession after concession, certain people need chaos, disarray, a victim mentality, simply because pain, even the imagined pain of a bee sting, is more pleasant to them than peace.

So this administration said: Let’s try a different approach. Let’s assemble those who do want world order, who do want to build, who do see the value of growth, who won’t pander to those who feign victimhood. We will codify peace with all those who want to move forward and leave behind those who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

And it will work, much to the chagrin of the detractors. When the “victim” is not given a shoulder to cry on, you will be surprised as to how quick the crying comes to an end.

There were a lot of heartfelt words at the signing ceremony. There was also music, melodies from a marching band that accompanied the leaders as they walked down the winding stairs to sign the accords in front of the assembled and the many more who were watching on TV.

But the words and the music were the end result, the outward manifestation of an inner desire to change. It all began with the inner spirit of man wanting to create a new reality. Lyrics and music are wonderful, but they really have power when they are rooted in man’s inner spirit.

Words are formulated in our mouths. Tunes have their origin in our voice box. Sounds emanate from a deeper place — our lungs from which we breathe and into which the Creator of the world, of all mankind, placed that initial breath.

That is the essence of the shofar. It is beyond words and melodies. The shofar is the manifestation of our deepest desires. It comes from the place that is the source of our life. People who can’t speak can live. People who can’t carry a tune can live. But no one can live without breathing. That is the shofar. G-d Al-mighty, we have run out of words, we have run out of tunes, but we can still breathe the air You breathed into man 5,781 years ago.

So we will stand in our shuls, homes, backyard tents, or, for some, hospital rooms, and beg the Master of the Universe to rid this world of a disease that attacks man’s ability to breathe. And we will wish each other only the best, because if you really believe in the best, then the best will occur. The best will occur because you will make it happen. We will hand the shofar to our friend who cannot breathe on his own this Rosh Hashanah and we will tell him, even though he can’t hear us, “You will blow the shofar for all of us next year, in Jerusalem.”

David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or ds@lawofficesm.com.


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