Home Shalom Monday Message #16

July 13, 2020
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Home Shalom promotes healthy relationships and facilitates the creation of judgement free, safe spaces in the Jewish community. Home Shalom is a program of The Advot Project.

Please contact us if you are interested in a workshop and presentation about healthy relationships, self-worth or communication tools.

“Ben Zoma said: ‘Who is rich? The ones who are grateful for what they have.’” Mishnah Avot 4:1

One of the most famous Hasidic stories is of the unhappy man who lived in a small village in the country and who complained to his rabbi that he was depressed because his house was too small for his four kids, his wife and himself to live inside.  He told the rabbi he would never be truly happy until he had enough money to buy a bigger house. The rabbi thought for a moment and then asked, “Do you have any pets?” “Sure,” the man answered, we have a dog and a couple of cats, and of course we also have some chickens, a goat, and a cow.”  “Good,” replied the rabbi, “go home and bring your dog, your cats and your chickens into your house for a week then come back and see me.”  The unhappy man thought the rabbi was crazy, but since he was the rabbi (and everyone listens to their rabbi), he did what the rabbi said. A week later when he returned the rabbi said, “Good job. Now for the next week also bring into your house your goat and your cow.”  Shaking his head in despair, the man went home and did what the rabbi asked. A week later he came back to the rabbi, frantic over the chaos and nightmare he was now living with and demanded that the rabbi do something. “You are right,” said the rabbi, “I don’t know what I was thinking. Go home immediately and take all of the animals out of your house.” The very next day the man rushed into the rabbi’s home exuding relief and excitement, saying, “Rabbi, it’s amazing! You wouldn’t believe how much room I actually have in my home and how grateful I am to be able to live in my house with just my wife and children.” “Ahh,” said the rabbi, “that is why Ben Zoma in the Talmud taught us ‘Who is rich? The ones who are grateful for what they have.”

In this time of world-wide anxiety and uncertainty, when life as we have known it has been so disrupted and derailed and there are so many unknowns to live with, the wisdom of Ben Zoma is all the more poignant, powerful and important for us to remember every day. Rather than focusing on the gatherings, travel, work or celebrations that we can’t do at this moment, our challenge each day is to focus on all that we do have, all that we can do, all the blessings large and small that still fill our lives each day and then the power of gratitude will inspire, uplift and lead us into the future that we will create together.

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Home Shalom and Naomi Ackerman, The Advot Project

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