Today we have been challenged to find new ways of doing things — who ever heard of a zoom seder? We are all looking to a time when things will be “back to normal.” Seth Godin in his blog March 26 wrote:
Is everything going to be okay?
If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it was and the way I expected it to be?” then the answer is no. The answer to that question is always no, it always has been.
If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it is going to be?” then the answer is yes. Of course. If we define whatever happens as okay, then everything will be.
Given that everything is going to be the way it’s going to be, we’re left with an actually useful and productive question instead: “What are you going to do about it?
Is this a Jewish way of looking at life? Definitely! We always need to be ready to begin again — think Tevye at the end of “Fiddler on the Roof.” An article in eJewishphilantropy reminded me of the story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. The Temple was under siege. He has his students carry him out to the Roman general in a coffin. He says to the general (not exact): “You can have Jerusalem — just give me Yavneh!” A new Judaism is created and we are all here because of that bold and sneaky move. Now there is another story about ben Zakkai when he was dying. His students see him crying and ask him why. He responds, “What if I was wrong?” He did not live to see that he was very right!
We are charting new paths and as Seth Godin says, “…everything is going to be the way it’s going to be” and the “What are we going to do about it? That is our challenge for today — we can plan and take whatever steps we need to look at what has always worked. What is working now and what we should keep from both to move forward. It is the Jewish way!
And it is the Jewish way to worry about it all plus probably feel a little guilty! We must push ourselves beyond the worry and guilt, although it is OK to feel it. From eJewishphilantropy, Rabbi Benay Lappe and Laynie Solomon wrote about ben Zakkai and also how we Jews continue to carry on:
“And we’ve done it in community. We’ve done it by holding each other’s hands. By showing up. By being there for each other. By listening. By telling each other our stories. And learning our peoples’ stories. We are all on a journey of uncertainty. We’re taking it day by day. But we’re not alone. It reminds me that what is lasting, what will never crash, is the love we have for each other. The love we share when we show up. Together. May we be there for each other along the way, and may we find strength, together, as we live into and write our own stories of uncertainty which will remind those who come after us that they, too, will make it beyond the wilderness of I-don’t-know-what-comes-next.”
When you read this column, it will be after our seder and we will have stories to share on how we made it together. As we continue hoping that “this too shall pass,” I am reminded of the oft-quoted idea that things happen in threes. Although these three have affected all of us in the Dallas Jewish community in different ways, we have had our three at each of our three: Last June, the microburst that left many ruined roofs and trees plus J camp started late as we were without power — it was Shavuot! Then at Sukkot, we experienced a tornado leaving many still out of their homes. We joked that these things come in threes so here we are at Passover with our third! We call these three holidays, Shalosh Regalim as they were the three holidays where we went on a journey to the Temple. We have had a variety of journeys this year — remember that we are very successful at being wandering Jews!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family JCC.