MLinsights_JULY2020

This too shall pass

I recently read a great tweet by American comedian, Alyssa Limperis, which simply stated, “Crazy how Monday was 4 years ago”. Like much good comedy, the art here is catching and expressing the collective mood.

It really does feel like the volatility, uncertainty and pace of constant updates is leading to a climate where many of us are experiencing the passage of time in a very different way.

Like many of you I have vacillated between moments of feeling normal and moments where I feel that not one aspect of life is normal.

One such experience was last weekend when I popped in to the supermarket to grab a few items to prepare dinner. Walking through the supermarket and seeing row upon row of empty shelves I suddenly felt a surge of anxiety. For those of us that have not lived in war zones or with a lack of assuredness around the availability of supplies this is the closest we have felt to this experience.

In this week’s experiential Jewish education classes, Mifgash and Ofek, our students explored a story about wise King Solomon which is relevant to our collective feelings.

The story begins with King Solomon devising an impossible test for a minister who he wishes to humble.

He asks the Minister to collect a very special ring for him to wear on Sukkot. The Minister assures him that wherever it exists on the planet it will be found. The Minister wants to know, however, what makes it so special.

King Solomon replies that the ring has the power to influence one who looks upon it in a unique way – it makes the happy person sad, and the sad person happy.

The Minister searches all over Israel and sends servants to the far reaches of the planet in search of such a ring, but to no avail. The day before Sukkot, in exasperation, the Minister goes to the local shuk and asks an old jeweller if has ever heard of a magical ring that brings sorrow to the happy and joy to the sad. The old jeweller reaches for a ring and engraves some Hebrew letters on it. The Minister is filled with joy.

The following day, the Minister presents King Solomon with this ring. It has the letters Gimmel, Zayin and Yud. This is short for Gam Ze Ya’avor – ‘this too shall pass’. Wise King Solomon looked at this and immediately realised that it is he who has been humbled by this test.

While we are at the beginning of what will be a very trying time and will likely present many new challenges, it is indeed helpful to remember that this too shall pass. The love, warmth and inter-connectedness that makes us so unique will help us to get through this period.

I wrote to you this week to express my great appreciation at the very many gestures of kindness I have experienced and witnessed. In this time of unprecedented challenge, it is so very comforting to be a member of this wonderful community.