Somewhere in your linguistic travels you’ve probably come across the expression, “of biblical proportions.”
Which means: on a grandiose scale. As in, “The volcano erupted before our very eyes, treating us to a spectacle of biblical proportions.”
Indeed, things happening in the Bible often (surely not always) happen in a big way. Well, often enough, at least, that folks seem to think of such over-sized events as having some inherently God-induced or God-imbued quality.
Floods, conflagrations, locust plagues — these are just a few of the biblical events that send people running for cover, praying from the depths of their souls for deliverance, and all the while exclaiming: “Beat that, Cecille B. DeMille, if you can!”
But come now, let’s not forget yet one more such “biblical” event. Not the kind that comes crashing down on you out of the blue, but, rather, the one that creeps up on you every day of your life at the conveniently constant rate of 365.2425 days per year.
The very earliest chapters of the Bible already acquaint us with human lifespans of biblical proportions. Adam, the progenitor of our species, lived 930 years; so it is written. And only a few generations later his descendant Methuselah topped off an otherwise uneventful life at a whopping 969 years, apparently the longevity record for all of human history.
But now, fast forward only fifteen generations or so, to Joseph, who — the final verses of the Book of Bereshit (Genesis) tell us proudly and admiringly — saw three generations of descendants, before wrapping up a highly eventful life at the ripe, old age of 110.
Ripe and old. Because by Methuselahic standards, Joseph had barely completed elementary school, so to speak, when he was forced to call it a day and return his well-weathered soul to its Maker.
But give him some credit for having been appointed by Pharaoh himself to the second highest office in the land, in the greatest world civilization of ancient times, when he had only just turned a spritely thirty years old — a highly enviable accomplishment by anyone’s estimation.
Interestingly, the Joseph passage we quoted earlier focuses on the generations of Joseph’s descendants that he saw after him, with no mention of the generations of his ancestors whom he had seen preceding him.
Well, what would you think of someone blessed by God’s good graces with a life long enough to have seen six generations in total (so far, that is): her grandparents, parents, self and siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!
That’s our birthday girl, Bubby Evelyn Leeder, who has just completed her 102nd year on God’s green earth. (“Bubby” is Yiddish for “grandmother”.)
Also known as Rebbetzin Evelyn Leeder, she divides her time these days between Lakewood, New Jersey, her primary residence, and Silver Spring, Maryland. (“Rebbetzin” is Yiddish for “wife of a rabbi.” Evelyn’s late husband Rabbi Dr. Shalom (Sidney) Leeder served the spiritual needs of communities in New York and Boston for over sixty years.)
The photos of this blog were taken recently (May 2017) in Silver Spring at Bubby’s 102nd birthday party. A sampling of the guests you see confirms that Bubby continues to live a highly “multi-generational” life, with young and old turning out to congratulate her on her latest “biblical” accomplishment.
True, Bubby was never appointed viceroy of a major world civilization. (So far as we know, that is.) But only because she never set her mind to that as one of her life’s goals. Meanwhile, as she approaches the age of Joseph, Bubby shows no signs of slowing down.
The world has certainly undergone some monumental changes since Bubby Evelyn came upon its stage as a newborn in 1915, in Boston’s West End. In fact, people now only half Bubby’s age are hard-pressed to recognize the world of their childhood memories in the world as we now know it.
But one thing, at least, is every bit as true of our world as it was in 1915, if not more so: It is surely a much better place just for having Bubby Evelyn Leeder in it.
Happy birthday, Bubby, and many, many more!