Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Satanov (1749–1826) was a highly respected teacher of Mussar – the Jewish movement that focused on teaching people how to live ethical, moral lives. As part of his own study, Rabbi Mendel created a list of 18 middot, principles that help people live their best lives. Number two on Rabbi Mendel’s list: patience. “When something happens to you and you do not have the power to control it,” teaches Rabbi Mendel, “do not aggravate the situation further through wasted anxiety or grief.”
I need to work on patience, especially as we return to the new normal that has been created by the pandemic. I am so anxious to see all of you at services, classes and social events. I am ready to toss the masks away, push the chairs in the sanctuary back together and return to the way things used to be. However, I know we can’t do this yet and, as we wait for things to improve, we must be cautious and, with patience, move more slowly than some of us might like. And so, I’m trying to take Rabbi Mendel’s words to heart. I’m trying not to waste my time being anxious over the things I can’t fully control – and returning to the new normal is one of those things I have no say over. I can and am, in partnership with our board and staff, making appropriate, small changes to loosen our COVID protocols. But, these changes are not the only things that will get us to the new normal. We all are on our own timeline these days. Each of us has our own comfort level and health concerns. It will take time for us all to get to the same place and for our synagogue to return to the bustling community center that it was. And for those of us who are more adventurous than others, we need to work on patience. The Book of Proverbs teaches us that “a patient person calms strife” (Prov. 15:18) Many of us need to take this lesson to heart.
As I work on patience, I’m happy to share with you that our Shabbat service attendance is slowly growing. We are expecting a lot of folks for dinner tonight at 6:00pm and last night we had a great turnout at Men’s Night Out. We’re welcoming our Youth Groups back to the synagogue and our schools are up and running. And this week, my Rabbi’s Study Group had the largest in-house attendance since the pandemic began! We’re taking it slowly, but we’re moving forward.
When you’re ready, we hope you’ll join us here at Ramat Shalom. We’re waiting for you with open arms. In the meantime, we’re just a call, text, email or Zoom session away.