Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's easy to complain

Sol visits Abe and sees he’s got a new dog.

"So what kind of dog is this?" asks Sol.

"It's a Jewish dog. His name is Irving," says Abe.

"Watch this," continues to Abe as he points to the dog.
"Irving, Fetch!"

Irving walks slowly to the door, then turns around and says, "So why are you talking to me like that? You always order me around like I'm nothing. Then you make me sleep on the floor, with my arthritis... You give me this farkakta food with all the salt and fat, and you tell me it's a special diet... It tastes like dreck! YOU should eat it yourself!...And do you ever take me for a decent walk?

"No, it's out of the house, a few steps, and right back home. Maybe if I could stretch out a little, the sciatica wouldn't kill me so much!"

Sol is amazed and tells Abe how remarkable this dog is, to which Abe answers: "I don't know, I think this dog has a hearing problem. I said fetch, and he thought I said kvetch."

Ever since our 40-year tour in the desert, we Jews have done our fair share of complaining.
Our family is either too meddling or totally unsupportive; our community is too small and nosey, yet too big for me to be significant; our leaders aren’t perfect and the weather’s never right; our salary is insufficient, our budget overwhelming; Government is useless and the country’s going to the dogs.

It’s so easy to fall into this habit, especially when we feel our complaints are justified.

How do you break the kvetch syndrome?

Judaism offers a 60-day programme of outlook-modification- and it launches internationally this week. It’s called the month of Adar and it’s here for double the usual length this year (being a leap year).

The Talmud says "Mishenichnas Adar marbim besimcha", when Adar enters, we increase in joy. Adar is the month of Purim, which commemorates a time when Jews had plenty to complain about. Haman threatened to attack every living Jew, and the mightiest leader of that time was on his side.

Funny, those Jews didn’t complain; they became proactive.
First, they united- working together is critical.
Second, they prayed for a miracle- appreciating that He’s in charge is powerful.
Third, they followed Mordechai- we need strong leadership.

Thanks to their proactive approach, the inevitable tragedy became, instead, a cause for celebration.

Each Adar, we’re offered that opportunity again. Sure, there’s much to complain about, but Adar is about joy. Joy means that you trust that things can- and will- improve. Joy means that circumstances don’t paralyze you, but that you can generate your own happiness, under any circumstances. Joy is created by working with others, trusting G-d and learning from our spiritual leaders.

Joy comes from active participation, not from armchair grumbling.

We’ve got two months of potential Simcha, joy without limitations. Let’s grab the opportunity with both hands.

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