July 9, 2024

Several years ago, before it was common for people to "cut the cord" and get rid of cable or satellite TV, my wife decided that as a way to save money, we should get a streaming box. It wasn't that we were opposed to TV; it was that we were finding ourselves not watching it as often as the cost warranted. Not only have we saved a lot of money by making the switch, but I have relished re-watching old TV shows like M*A*S*H… Cheers… Family Ties… West Wing… and others. While these were incredible shows and often take me back to when I remember sitting and watching a specific episode, I have a feeling it is something in my subconscious that is drawing me back to simpler times, and not just since I turned fifty last month.


I feel it is more because I want to escape from what we are thinking about or experiencing in the here and now and less about nostalgia. Think about it for a moment… think about ALL we have been through these last several years: the political landscape and the increased inability or willingness of our leaders to work collaboratively to solve issues, a rise of hatred and animosity towards "the other" in society which has led to many people not feeling safe, COVID, the rise of hate, including antisemitism, October 7 and its ongoing fallout, and so many other things. It feels as though we have jumped from one crisis to the next, and as a Jewish leader, I have felt extremely taxed, especially these last several months.


I am having a difficult time getting out of this "fog" I feel like I am walking in each day.

Yet, in spite of all of this, I keep coming back to a story from our tradition that I feel is imperative that we remember.


A story is told of King Solomon, who gave his most loyal servant a most challenging charge.  The King asked him to find something that would make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy. The servant wandered from town to town for months, and just before he was about to give up, he stumbled upon a jewelry store. And as the servant told the jeweler what he had been trying to find for the King, the jeweler's face lit up and said," Ah… I have just the thing." He took a plain silver ring and engraved something on it in Hebrew.  The servant took the ring and saw the words "Gam Zeh Ya'avor." (This too shall pass).  All at once, he understood that a happy person looking at this ring would be reminded that their present joy would not last forever.  But a sad person's heart might lift as these words brought a glimpse of better days to come.  Gratefully, the servant sped home to King Solomon, knowing he had finally fulfilled his mission.


Please know that while I wholeheartedly believe in the message of this story as a means to keep things in perspective, I still feel it is vital that we continue to pay attention to what is happening around us and do what we can to make things better. And yet, we must remember that the feelings we have right now from our present experiences and worries will pass. As proof, I believe it is why we only remember the "good stuff" that comes to mind when we watch an old TV show or hear a song from our youth.



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