Posted by: jdiscover | December 31, 2009

The “Count Your Blessings” Decade


“In these 10 years, we have gone from peace to war, from surplus to deficit, from prosperity to recession.” So Daniel Schorr, reminds us. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls it “The Big Zero,” the decade “in which nothing good happened.”

It has been a tough 10 years, there is much sadness, shock and loss to remember as we recall the past. There is also much to learn from a decade worth of experiences. We discovered the limitations of a super power, the destructive force of extremist ideology, our powerlessness before Mother Nature and the harm that individual greed can bring to all – to name just a few of the lessons we carry into the future. But, the most important lesson, I take from this decade is the importance of truly living each and every day.

In an instant, 9-11 taught us, the world can change. Hurricane Katrina reminded us of our vulnerability and fragility. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate our inability to see the consequences of our actions. The only certainty in this world is this moment. In this moment we are here, alive and that is a blessing.
The late, Carl Sagan, kept a postcard on his mirror. The message read: “Just a line to let you know that I am alive and kicking and doing grand. It’s a treat!” The card was signed by a passenger aboard the Titanic. Each day of life is a treat!
This week’s Torah portion, the last in the Book of Genesis, is named, VaYechi – ‘He Lived’. It begins “Lived, Jacob, seventeen years in Egypt….so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one hundred and forty-seven years.” What a strange way to begin a recounting of Jacob’s last days. We would expect Jacob to be bitter and depressed in his last days. He has been deceived by his sons who sold Joseph into slavery. He was abandoned by Joseph who did not tell him he was alive. His children are spiteful, violent and devious. And, at the age of one hundred and thirty he had to move and set up residence in a foreign land. But the Torah tells us “he lived.” He made a life for himself. Despite his losses and traumas, he enjoyed the blessings of family and long life. Jacob spent his days, appreciative – making every day count.

As we end this decade (I know some say – the decade ends next year), let us not overly bemoan the losses and traumas of the past, let us live – appreciating the blessings of the moment. As we raise our glasses in toast for the coming of 2010, we declare, L’chayim! – ‘To Life!’ To a life of blessings in 2010!


Responses

  1. Rabbi Rose – I heartily agree. Focusing in on the blessings we have lets us refocus our attention on what is truly important. Health, family, security, and education. Thank you for continuing to educate all of us.

    With renewed enthusiasm for 2010, wishing you and yours all the best!


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