Thoughts from the Rabbi…
The secular New Year was hardly upon us, when the bad news started rolling in nearly from Day 1:
Flooding of Biblical proportions in Australia and Brazil;
The attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords;
The murder of six innocents who attended her open forum; and
The untimely death of Reform Judaism’s most prominent and prolific composer, Debbie Friedman.
How many of us, just before the end of 2010 offered prayers of hope, appealing to God that 2011 would be a better year? I know I did.
And yet, only a few weeks in, we wonder if our prayers have gone unanswered.
I recently received an email from someone in the community asking where God is in all the tumult of the world. Has God abandoned all of us?
How many times throughout history have people asked this very question? How unsatisfying we have found the answers offered by even our greatest Sages.
In the midst of all the tragedy, a colleague of mine offered the following as his Facebook status: “Ok, too much lousy news the last few days… What’s something good that you’ve experienced?” Very quickly, his page was flooded with thoughts from people all over the country:
“Just celebrated my son’s Bar Mitzvah!”
“Enjoying time with my 5-year-old.”
“Celebrating my daughter’s grades.”
“Playing in the snow.”
“Got an unexpected gift from a friend.”
The fact is, amidst the chaos throughout the world, we must also remember that there are blessings out there as well. The tragic events in our lives can so easily overwhelm us. And we must be given the opportunity to grieve, and to shout out in anger, and to simply stop whatever we are doing… and cry. After all, those are very human feelings and emotions, and we are entitled to them.
Yet we must also be sure to give ourselves the chance to celebrate even the simplest of victories, and to enjoy those thrilling moments of happiness, as well. They happen far more often that we notice, because we are often too busy, and overlook them too often.
As we continue through this year, let us never stop praying for better days ahead. But let us always remember the abounding blessings that fill our days.
May we never settle for the world as it is. Yet, may we also recognize just how great it is to be alive!
Rabbi Jeffrey R. Astrachan