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Rabbi Message: January 3, 2017

Learning Torah from an Old Yahoo Account

A few years back, I opened a new email account, moving from Yahoo to Gmail. This move coincided with several other life changes. I was largely done with my parenting obligations. I left the town I had raised kids in, sold a house and made a new start in a new location. I harvested some of the learning of that long stay in the Hartford area and moved on.

I did not delete that Yahoo account. Now and then, an old friend would contact me on it. Sometimes a valued organization used the old address. There were some contacts coming in on the Yahoo account that I did not want to lose. I told my friends and associates that I was now on Gmail. Some folks made note of this. Others did not. I continued to check the Yahoo account every few days for several years so I would not lose those contacts...until a recent snow day left me with time on my hands.

I decided to contact my provider and cancel the account. The account was opened under the old address, at the old house, from the previous service provider. The account was opened by the old me. There was no way I could give the Yahoo representative enough information to verify my identity and close the account. His advise to me? Stop checking the old account and it will delete off of the system within a few months. I felt the slight twinge of "letting go" of an old habit, an attachment to that little task of scanning for old contacts. But simply letting go seemed to be the only way to proceed.

Simple enough. Until a few days ago. As happens to me often here, I was chatting with new acquaintances, on the way to becoming new friends, in my new home town of Greenfield. The subject of family came up. I shared a story about a deceased relative. It was a shameful incident, with few redeeming merits. There was some humor to it and some wonder. I felt a little tawdry. I was speaking ill of the dead, my dead. I was sharing this one story - out of all the stories of struggle and gift and growth - from this person's life. I believe in the afterlife and I believe that this person is no longer in the shameful condition in which the story was rooted. The deceased had moved on. I had not.

My attachment to that tawdry incident is not alive for me, it is not defining. It was a factor, one among many, of who I was. The question now is: Who am I becoming? And the advise from Yahoo is this: Stop checking the old information. It will delete itself.