Wednesday, August 13, 2014

There's Some Satisfaction In The San Francisco Rain (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia - "Mission in the Rain"

It never ceases to amaze me how news events initiate discussion as well as provide learning opportunities for our children. It was our son’s birthday this week. He received gifts and cards. When I asked him what he wanted to do on his birthday he said he wanted to go play golf. So like a good dad, I bought him a junior set of clubs and we went and played 9 holes of golf. Me and my son. He hit some good shots and he had some bad shots. As we drove towards the 9th and final hole, he had such a look of contentment, of satisfaction on his face, and he thanked me for such a great afternoon. A couple of days later, we heard the news that Robin Williams took his own life.  Knowing who Robin Williams is, our son immediately began asking the questions. He asked the questions we all ask in such a situation. How can someone take their own life? How could someone who is so funny, and so beloved want to kill himself? So we have spent the last few days talking about Depression. We have spent the last few days explaining that someone must be so distraught, so hopeless, so tormented, and bear so much pain that death brings greater relief, or even satisfaction that the current dissatisfied nature of life.
This week’s Parsha is Eikev. Here in his second discourse, Moshe explains to the new generation how the second set of tablet that contain the Aseret Dibrot came into being. He explains how God forgave their parents of their idolatrous behavior in regards to the Eigel Zahav (Golden Calf), and all B’nai Yisroel must do essentially refrain from Idolatry, serve God, worship God, and the nation will be rewarded with water, grass and quality lives. Moshe also reminds B’nai Yisroel that they have nothing to fear when they enter into Canaan and conquer the land even though they maybe outnumbered, because God has already demonstrated that he will protect his people. He did so during the Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus), and as long as B’nai Yisroel keeps its side of the B’rit, God will continue to protect his people.
            However it is towards the end of the Parsha, that we encounter a possible answer from a passage of Torah that should be familiar to all of us. V’Haya Im Tishma’u El Mitzvotai Asher Anochi M’tzaveh Etchem Hayom L’AhavahIt will be that if you hearken to My commandments that I command you today to love Hashem your God and to serve him with all you heart and with all your soul…(Deut. 11:13). This is the second paragraph of the Shema, a part of the daily prayers we say every Shacharit (morning service) and Ma’Ariv (evening service). In this second paragraph of the Shema, we are told that there is a reward for our obeying God’s commandments and there will be retribution for disobeying God’s commandments. Among the rewards is a phrase that, at first glance, does not seem like such a reward. V’Haya Im Tishma’u El Mitzvotai Asher Anochi M’tzaveh Etchem Hayom L’Ahavah Et Adonai Eloheichem Ul’Avdo B’Chol Levavchem Uv’chol  Nafshachem. V’Natati M’tar Artzechem B’Ito Yoreh Umalkosh V’Asaftah D’Ganecha V'Tiroshcha v’YitzharechaIt will be that if you hearken to My commandments that I command you today to love Hashem your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I shall provide rain for your Land in its proper time, the early and the late rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine and your oil.  V’Natati Esev B’Sadcha Livhemtecha V’Achalta V’Savata – I shall provide grass in your field for your cattle and you will eat and be satisfied (Deut. 11:15). Among the rewards is grass for our cattle and we will eat and be satisfied. We won’t be ecstatic, we won’t be overjoyed. Rather we will be content and satisfied. This notion of Savatayou will be satisfied”, suggest satiety. It assumes that we know when we have “had our fill”. It suggests that in moments of quiet and perhaps anxiety and despair and we ask “is this all there is?” We are supposed to be able to say “Yes, this is all there is…. And it is enough to fill me.” Certainly the Torah’s words are suggesting a means by which we are able to control our expectations and minimize our disappointments.
            Depression is a powerful disease. We explained to our son that this was something that Robin Williams lived with his whole life. We explained that he used his humor to fight the darkness that was dissatisfaction with himself and the pain that it caused him. Then our son said something so powerful. He said that Depression must be pretty horrible if it means that it won’t allow you to find satisfaction or happiness in something as small or simple as spending time with your kids. He asked when we could go play golf again. My son, taught me a lot this week.
Rav Yitz

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