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Gaining some perspective

03/27/2019 12:26:27 PM


Cantor Peter Halpern

When we examine the existence of animals, insects and the botanical world, we see the interdependence of creation. So too it is with humanity. At times, we would like to believe that we can function without a dependence on others and may even take pride in it. Sooner or later, though, we are humbled and realize that it is not possible. This, if nothing else, obliges us to respect and nurture our interpersonal relationships.
Our sages knew this hundreds of years ago and wrote about it in great detail. Much of Pirkei Avot (The Chapters of the Fathers) deals with the juxtaposition of self-care and our relationships with others. Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? (but) If I am only for myself, what am I?...”
Losing perspective is perhaps the greatest danger. We are slighted and offended or just plain irritated by someone. From a wider perspective though, is this really important? I once read “don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember, it’s all small stuff.” It is but one act at one moment. We are a single human speck in a sea of time and space.
This reading from the
Gates of Repentance touches me whenever I read it: ”Like children falling asleep over their toys, we relinquish our grasp on earthly possessions only when death overtakes us. Master and servant, rich and poor, strong and feeble, wise and simple, all are equal in death. The grave levels all distinctions and makes the whole world kin.”

Sun, November 17 2019 19 Cheshvan 5780