Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Thankfully, we are once again gathering to celebrate and commemorate milestones in our lives. So many things happened to us during the last two years. There certainly was sadness, but there was also gladness. However, we seem to dwell on the misery and misfortune that occurs and forget too often the beautiful happenings that make us appreciate life.
Some of us concentrate on our ailments and forget how glorious the next day can be. To do that requires a combination of faith and determination. It is easy to become disillusioned and feel as though the world is crashing down on us. And, at times, it probably is. But those moments soon disappear, and we find that a new day dawns and we are able to move on to the next moment in our lives.
As time goes by, we tend to focus on the past, because we somehow cannot envision a future. Day after day, the same routine, and day after day, we see our circle of friends vanish. It is more difficult at this stage in our lives to make new friends.
It reminded me of us! There are some in our community who want desperately to hold onto the traditions of the past and still breathe the air of modernity. There are those who want only to journey into the realm of that which is proven. And there are those who want to abandon belief and substitute it with a faithless morality.
The question you may ask is what are we celebrating and what are we commemorating? Because we are so fond of labels, we call them traditions. Broken down, they are the sum-total of what we have learned and what we accept or reject. However, I would suggest that we grow by experimenting, and we hold onto the past through the recitation of prayers and rituals that remind us who we are.
On the one hand, there are those who believe in strict adherence, derived from that which is written together with how it is interpreted. Finally, there are those who believe that customs and traditions that are thrown into the mix convince us of the rightness of what is believed. However, when we stir the pot, out comes a mix of many faiths and beliefs.
On the other hand, I find that the primary issue is comfortability. If we are not satisfied with our observance, to whatever extent, then it stands to reason that we will not follow through with understanding what we do or do not do to reach spiritual fulfillment. This requires experimentation. To experiment, however, requires a commitment to spiritual growth.
To me, the essence of what religious observance signifies is defined by our actions. Words alone do not make us pious or worthy of divine consideration. Deeds that accompany the words are the necessary ingredients for a successful, fruitful life. When we do for others, we, in turn, do for ourselves. This is the cycle of connection and love that makes us acceptable in the eyes of God.
May we all be blessed with the beauty of life filled with satisfaction and contentment. May God continue to grant us good health and long life, but most of all, quality of life so that all that was created will bring us joy and happiness with all our memories of the past, but with an eye to our future.
Maybe then we will find fulfillment in Easter and Passover.