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The complexity and simplicity of everyday life

11/13/2019 11:37:41 AM

Nov13

Fred Kraus

The “tension” between complexity and simplicity has been on my mind as the frenetic fall season transitions into winter.

Life can be terribly complicated. On top of family obligations and activities, there are no shortage of challenges in our professional lives and in our world: in science, medicine, economics, politics and policy. Trying to balance it all leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Yet, Yom Kippur’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, reminds me that we can live a blessed life if we keep G-d’s commandments and that to do so isn’t very hard. “[It] is not too difficult or beyond reach…No, it is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, and you can do it.”

Sounds simple and wonderful. Sign me up!

It’s hard to make sense of these seemingly opposing forces between the complexity of everyday life and the simplicity of keeping G-d’s commandments. Are these concepts at odds or can they peacefully coexist? Like many things, I think it’s a matter of perspective. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m taught to breathe. When I’m angered, I’m reminded to feel compassion, to love and to practice kindness. When an uncertain future worries me, I try to focus on the moment.

Yes, life’s challenges are real. But when I think about the words of Nitzavim, I’m reminded that some of the most important parts of life are simpler – breathing, loving, practicing kindness, staying in the moment – and I can do it.

The next time I look at my too colorful calendar and want to pull out what’s left of my hair, I will remind myself that I am lucky to have so many opportunities to engage and interact with many others. And to drive to so many different soccer fields.

Fred Kraus is president of Temple Shalom.

Sun, December 15 2019 17 Kislev 5780