Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just when you were getting comfortable...

Do you also sometimes have those frenetic, dizzying rotor-blade days that sap you of patience, humour and energy? All you want to do after the day's chaos is to settle into your slippers, a hot bath or soft bed and breathe. Only the phone rings incessantly, your daughter needs help with homework or the neighbour's dog starts howling outside your window as you wind down.

Life teases us with all sorts of "just when you thought you were getting comfortable" moments to jolt us.

We are all entitled to gear down occasionally, but for the most part, life keeps us on our toes. Maybe it's G-d's conspiracy to keep us from getting comfortable.

Avraham was the prototype Jew who is supposed to model for us how living as a Jew works. Look at his life, he barely has a chance to catch his breath. As a child he has a run-in with his dad, who hands him over to the cops, who attempt to kill him (miraculously, Avraham survived). When he's 75, Hashem sends him packing to an unknown location and, as soon as Avraham gets settled there, brings famine to the land, sending Avraham on the road again. He tries to get on with his nephew, but Lot dumps him for the emerging markets in Sodom. Not long after that, Avraham has to rush off to rescue Lot (and fight off four kings) from his abductors. Avraham's wife can't have kids and advises him to take a second wife, but when Hagar falls pregnant, Sarah insists that Avraham kick her out the house (and potentially never meet the child he so wanted). Eventually, Hagar and Yishmael return and Sarah later bears a son. When Yishmael starts using his younger half-brother for target practice, Avraham sends him away. Then G-d tells him to take his favourite son and sacrifice him on an isolated mountain.

Avraham's life is a cacophony of upheaval with sprinklings of tranquility here and there. Had Avraham ever wanted to "chill", Hashem would quickly concoct a new speed-wobble to upend his world.

And he was the first Jew.

Because a Jew doesn't get comfortable. A Jew is someone who pushes the envelope and challenges everything that he or she has grown used to. A Jew cannot pat himself on the back or count "achievements". A Jew needs to always look for new challenges, aim for higher spiritual gains and greater impact on society. If a Jew doesn't push himself beyond his comfort-level, Hashem- in His infinite creativity- will.


Tea N. Crumpet said...

This is something that I needed to read. My life is starting to get to where I want it to be and I have become terrified of driving, afraid of doing new things, convinced that something terrble will happen to throw me off kilter. I read this and felt better. If G-d wants it to happen, it will and there is nothing I can do about it. I often think, "If I can only _____, then I will relax and be happy." In truth, _____ happens and I am fearful of the next challenge.

Thank you for an inspiring story!

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Oh-- the most important part of my note-- I will do everything legal in my power to enjoy the present moment!