Why “Visiting Hours” is Perfect Right Now

Today a friend of mine sent me a text with Ed Sheeran’s new-ish song “Visiting Hours” because, as she noted in her caption accompanying the video, it’s “On Mortality.”

I’ve listened to the song several times today, including watching the video of its premiere on the occasion of the state memorial for Michael Gudinski in whose memory Sheeran wrote the song in tribute.

In addition to being incredibly talented, there are other reasons why this song at this time is topping charts and resonating worldwide with the global population that has endured the pandemic – paradoxically, collectively and in isolation.

The first line begins, “I wish that Heaven had visiting hours…”

If there was any doubt that people could connect with such a paradisiacal lyric before the pandemic, the doubt has been resolved. The past two years, we have realized that we wish for our world to have visiting hours, too.

Continue reading

The Conditions for Showing Kindness

Anyone who has ever loved someone who experienced profound vulnerability and dependency knows that people have dignity not only for what they can do but simply, and fundamentally, for who they are.

“Quality of life” is not an individual assessment but a community’s responsibility.

I recently came across these words of Rabbi Dr. Yitzchok Breitowitz who says:

The concept of quality of life, per se, is not a relevant idea because any life is worthy of sustaining because there are purposes for a soul to be in the body that we don’t always perceive. Sometimes the purpose of a soul in the body is not because of what the body can do – even if it’s comatose – but the body enables other people to do mitzvos [good deeds] such as pray, give charity, and the like. So sometimes, the purpose of your life is not what you yourself are accomplishing; the purpose of your life is what you are enabling others to accomplish, and that is a great spiritual benefit that will serve this soul well when it goes into the world of truth.

Such a view requires cultivating the ability to receive help, support, treatment, affection, and acts of kindness from others.

Kindness depends on cooperation between the recipient and the giver, between the person in need and the person rendering some form of service.

A seeming “diminishing quality of life” corresponds to increasing need and opportunities to show kindness.

Painting: Visiting the Sick, Modernist Israeli Oil Painting, Avraham Ofek