I know that for those reading this column, the year 2020 ranks as a year we'd love to forget. Now, we are in 2021, and it continues to feel like we are living in the movie Groundhog Day. Days and weeks pass, and after a while everything seems like it is one big blur. What are we to do?
As a Rabbi, I am asked this question on a regular basis. I generally offer two answers – one is philosophical, and the second is practical. The philosophical answer is found in the Talmud, the major compendium of Jewish law. There we read of the idea that says Gam zeh ya'avohr – in English this means "this too shall pass."
This is not a Hallmark card cliché. It is a reminder to us that in difficult times we cannot sink into a state of despair where we believe that there is no hope for the future. Once we lose hope, we descend down a path where there is no return. In Jewish tradition, we are to avoid extremes.
We are cautioned against being unduly optimistic and we are warned against being too pessimistic. The goal is to be in the middle. When we say, "this too shall pass,” it doesn't mean we are to ignore the present difficulty we are encountering, but it does mean that we have to remind ourselves that nothing is forever, even if we think it is.
The second answer is very practical, and it especially applies to those of you who are living alone, regardless of age. The Torah (Old Testament) tells us in Genesis that it is not good for the human to be alone. Human beings need to be in relationships with others.
It doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has to be married, but it does mean that if you try to live your life alone, you will pay a very heavy price. Health professionals know this all too well. It is important for you to be connected to others, whether it be a neighbor, a colleague, a relative, someone from your church or synagogue, etc. That means you may need to practice one or more of the three Gs – Get up, Get going and Get connected. You won't regret it.
We do live in a challenging time. But, it doesn't mean we cannot have a meaningful life. May God be with you as you go forward.
By Rabbi Jim Simon
Rabbi Simon is the interim Rabbi at Temple Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica.
Editor’s Note: Each month we are asking a clergy member of our local churches or temples to do a column on dealing with COVID-19.