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Of Comfort and Challenge

Sunday, 18 February, 2018 - 7:59 pm

 For an under 2 minute audio click here 

The Talmud says: “Wherever the term “ויהי” and it was, is mentioned in scripture, it is an expression of pain” i.e. it introduces a painful narrative.

This idea can be applied to life as well. When we are very much preoccupied with thoughts of the past, discerning nothing good in the present and not anticipating the potential of the future, that is a sign of anguish. 

Jewish festivals - which often may seem like mere historical commemorations - are all in some way spiritually tied to the future. While Pesach begins by recalling the exodus from Egypt, the second half of the seder talks of our ultimate redemption and concludes with the declaration “Next year in Jerusalem”. Shavuot, to take another example, ostensibly commemorates the giving of the Torah to our ancestors on Sinai. Yet at its essence lies our commitment to keep the Torah into the future. Our rejoicing is not a preoccupation with the past, but lies in the vision of a glorious future. And although the future seems uncertain (thus posing challenges), it still generates joy because it holds the promise and potential of what may be.

From the past we may take comfort, but the future promises excitement. 

When we face new challenges, we are able to rise above mediocrity. Challenges prompt our very best efforts and the use of our abilities to their full extent. Challenges can spark journeys deep into our souls to discover what we are truly capable of.

The past is over. The anticipation and enticing realisation of what remains to be done far outweigh dusty memories, no matter how pleasant.

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