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This is Why We Practice

06/24/2022 09:45:18 AM


Rabbi Scott Hausman -Weiss

Life is difficult and these days it seems only to be more so.  My heart is broken by wanton violence. I can’t stop thinking about the children of Uvalde. Yes… Those who lost their lives, their futures, their hopes, and dreams… And also for the children who survived and will have to live with this permanent but invisible scar upon their hearts for the rest of their lives. I don’t demand that they live this way but it’s hard to imagine how they won’t.
I’m overwhelmed by the horrific doomsdays portended by the worst of the climate catastrophe predictions. And truth be told, I do pray that they’re wrong although, to borrow an expression, these prayers feel to me much more like “Hail Mary’s.” I don’t put a lot of faith in them.

I shudder at the thought of the rolling back of long-fought for and sacrificed-for human rights.  And I do not believe they aren’t in the offing…and then there’s the faltering economy…the threat of violence between neighbors, family, friends…Covid…it all feels medieval. 
And don’t get me started on Jew-hatred…
What do we do?  How do we live?  Unfortunately, AND Thank God, while we do have tools, I warn you, they’re not really new.  But here they are:
The first is, when you can’t control the world, control yourself.  The truth is you can never control worlds outside of your true influence to impact them despite how delicious controlling them sounds.  So work on yourself.  And listen well to others, such that they feel not only heard, but embraced.  And the second is to pray as if it all depends on God, and act as if it all depends on you.  Now, this isn’t the antithesis to #1, it’s the prologue.  Because all of it does depend on you, the way Rabbi Hillel taught.  Here are his questions but with some potentially useful answers:

1.     If I am not for myself, who will for me? > If you’re lucky, some, but not many, and not often, and not for long.
2.     If I am only for myself, what am I?  > As a famed, apocryphal Rabbi taught his students, “the most important thing is to be yourself…unless you’re a schmuck, then be somebody else.”
3.     And if not now, when? Every moment is always “Now.”  So go out and connect with someone, anyone, as a deft act against the fates that you will not allow yourself to be undermined by the bad behavior of others, or the lethargy of self.
This is why we practice.

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784