Thursday, February 23, 2017

Changes, Changes, Changes

Doesn't life still have a way of surprising us, regardless of however many experts tell us what the future holds? Our recent Presidential elections surprised many, although not all, of our fellow American citizens. It's proving to be an important reminder of a beautiful mystery of living life: we can't control the future, and we can't be absolutely certain of everything...but we'll experience it soon enough! The future is always just around the corner. How do we live a life that is full of uncertainty and change?

One Jewish way to successfully live a life that's full of uncertainty is to do something profoundly simple but deeply challenging: accept it. Accept that the only constant in life is its inconsistent nature; accept that the only constant in life is change.

We Jews have had to become experts at accepting changes great and small throughout our history as a people, and as an evolving belief system. How frequently has Jewish history shown us that an overriding belief of Jews in their safety and security often sadly precedes unexpected tragedy, expulsion, and loss?

And yet from the wisdom of Jewish Tradition we find a kind of reassuring familiarity in the unstoppable forces of change: it's how the whole story begins! Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden to forge a new and completely changed life. Later, God surprises Noah (and everyone else) with the Flood, springing on humanity the ultimate change of starting over. And much later Abraham is told by God "Lech Lecha," "Go forth, to a land that I will show you" - directing Abraham toward a radical changing of place, of purpose, and even of name (from Abram to Abraham).

Change is hard. Uncertainty is hard. But by accepting change and uncertainty as constants in life, we may find life to be less overwhelming, less surprising, less challenging. Think back to some of our earliest stories - of Adam and Eve, of Noah, of Abraham - and be reassured that God, Jewish Tradition, and the Jewish People have always embraced change. So can we.

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