HHD Reflection 5777 – Day 1

Rabbi Charley Baginsky
Rabbi at South Bucks Jewish Congregation & Liberal Judaism’s Director of Strategy & Partnerships

Between the years of 2005 and 2014, the musician and songwriter Craig Taubman brought together rabbis, artists, educators, writers – both Jews and non-Jews – and asked them to write a thought on a theme throughout the period of Elul, which appeared on www.jewelsofelul.com

It is a resource that I turn to often over this period, always finding something new. But there is one piece that I refer back to time and time again. ‘Four Words of Wisdom’ by Rachel Levin, associate director of the Righteous Persons Foundation. For me it speaks to the heart of the chaggim. Forgiveness, beginning anew, making atonement, re-engaging and recreating relationships all centre on evaluating what is really important to us and understanding what are the things we can control and the things we cannot.

Four Words of Wisdom by Rachel Levin

When I was in 8th grade, Mr Ben Yudin, my comparative religion teacher extraordinaire, asked the class a question. “What are the four words you can say on any occasion?” The answer was: “This too shall pass.”

“I remember telling my father that night that I would never walk up to a bride and say, ‘Congratulations, this too shall pass.’ My father replied that it’s precisely the couples who understand that the exhilaration of their wedding day will pass, who go on to have good marriages.

Since then, those four words have become a sort of mantra in my life. “This too shall pass” has gotten me through periods of stress, sadness, even excruciating physical pain. But lately, as the harried working mother of two, I have begun to really understand the value of these words for the joyous occasions, especially those easily missed moments – my son waking from sleep and curling his warm body into my lap; my daughter’s face when I come home from work. “This too shall pass,” whispers that voice in my ear. Turn off the cell phone, put down the paper, and just be.

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