Sharing A Page Out Of My Diary – Rebbetzin Mushka

I’d like to share some of the thoughts going round in my mind this week.

Two shoe salesmen from competing companies are sent to a foreign country to assess the market.

Salesman One scouts around for a few days and then heads for the telegraph office to contact company headquarters. He writes: “Research complete. Unmitigated disaster. Nobody here wears shoes.”

Likewise, Salesman Two does his research and heads for the same telegraph office. Once there, he composes the following: “Research complete. Glorious opportunity! Nobody here wears shoes!”

There was a meme going around after the launch of the spaceship last week.

‘Congratulations to the astronauts who left earth today. Good choice!’

If I had the option, would I want to run away from the world because of its degradation?

Witnessing the horrors and tragedies of the last few months and weeks, my (and probably everyone’s) initial assessment of our world is simple: What a mess. What a disaster.

But then I was thinking what if we chose to be Salesman Two, to find in this entire mess an opportunity, a precipice of a major transformation? What if this hurt and pain leads to great awakening and change (as it is so eloquently being dubbed on social media)?

The Torah teaches us that there’s a reason we’ve been placed on this Earth. We all have our unique and collective missions to fulfil.  Escaping our homes is the antithesis of our existence. It is our responsibility to do our part in transforming this jungle like world into a beautiful, peaceful, luscious garden.

With obviously no knowledge of the coronavirus, in the late 1800s Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote this chilling paragraph that really resonated with me:

“If I had the power I would provisionally close all synagogues for a hundred years. Do not tremble at the thought of it, Jewish heart. What would happen? Jews and Jewesses without synagogues, desiring to remain such, would be forced to concentrate on a Jewish life and a Jewish Home. The Jewish officials connected with the synagogue would have to look to the only opportunity now open to them – to teach young and old how to live a Jewish life and how to build a Jewish home.”

We have the opportunity to re- introduce G-d, spirituality, belief in something greater than us to our children and our families. Living our lives with a sense of meaning, purpose and morality, our children will hopefully behave decently and honestly, not because of fear of the policeman who they can outsmart, but because there is a higher  being and if G-d is the creator then everything and everyone deserves the utmost respect.

Or we can deprive our children and our families of a relationship with

G-d, proclaim that reverence as old fashioned and unnecessary in our enlightened and modern age of freedom and equality. And we will raise a generation that sees the world as a literal jungle: a place where nothing matters except myself and my own needs, rights and wants.

With all of modern day’s supposed forward-thinking  openness, freedom, and equality, without a connection to something greater than ourselves the results are  what we’re seeing – a society

that, for all its technological and scientific advances, lacks respect for one another. We created our own biased sense of justice where our ‘rights’ take precedence over someone else’s life; deciding who is ‘worth’ more.

During the past two centuries, society has taken giant leaps of progress in terms of the advancement of the sciences and technology. We’ve done extraordinary things in our role as ‘partners’ with the Earth in so many areas that make our lives longer, better, healthier and more comfortable. And yes, we must congratulate ourselves for it.

Perhaps that’s what we were asked to do when Adam and Even on their first day in the Garden of Eden were told: “to work it and to guard it”.

We’ve “worked it” quite well. (Maybe too much?)

But we also need to “guard it”, to protect its timeless moral truths, as handed down to us.

I’m hopeful we will use this time to be like Salesman Two and grab this opportunity with two hands, plant our feet on the ground, and get down to the work of making sure that the values we have been gifted, particularly the value on all human life, including those who might not look, think, or feel like us, are respected and restored in society.

I think a good start can be in our homes..!

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