Life Is Like A Cigar.

Posted by Yoav Peck on May 15, 2019
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Life is like a cigar.

When it's fresh, just out of the box, a good cigar exudes a quiet enthusiasm. The whole ritual….smelling along the length of the cigar, biting off the tip, lighting it well, the entire end aglow. The cigar's intervening stages unfold, youth, middle age, as you approach the mighty finale of the butt end of the cigar. The essence of the cigar's youth and maturity is now mixed into the sharp taste of its last minutes, and its imminent demise.

On one of Jerry Benjamin's many visits to Israel, he invited me to his room at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the by-invitation guest house facing the walls of the Old City. He pulled out two extremely delicious cigars, as he poured some whiskey for us. Talking with Jerry was an adventure, always full of a sense of possibility. What made him so attractive was this combination of deep wisdom and humor….you just wanted to be around the guy.

Jerry died the other day. Fought his illness gallantly, and died.

The Dalai Lama speaks of death as a part of life. "Now what's important is, while we're alive, our daily life should be meaningful. Meaningful means, if possible, help others. If not, at least restrain harming others. That's a meaningful life. Then, when the end comes, you will not have any regret. 'I carried my life honestly, truthfully, more compassionately, and I have done something good for others.' Then when the end comes, you will feel happy." I'll bet Jerry died happy.

Jerry loved life, he was voracious and exuberant. He touched so many people, enhanced so many lives. I had only brief meetings with him over the years, so I didn't get to see the pieces of his life where he was struggling, where things didn't go well. I know he had them, we all do.

I love what my Dad said to me shortly before he died...."I won't forgive you and your siblings if you only say good things about me after I'm gone." I reassured him that he could count on me to encourage the bad-mouthing. In addition to admiring, loving, and missing him.

You are admired, loved and missed, Jerry Benjamin.

Yoav Peck, Jerusalem

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