Friday, November 9, 2012

Mazal Tov Obama; L'chaim to good time ahead!

The US Presidential elections are behind us and fingers are still being pointed about whose fault the current economic crisis is. People wish for the “Good Old Days” of prosperity. One interesting observation highlighted by the BBC was how much a President ages in four years. The strain on Obama’s face was clear after just one year in office. While he looks fabulous now at 51, four years as the leader of the Free World has done its bit in turning his hair white. It is now only very occasionally that I get asked for ID when buying alcohol, as I too have aged, as Rabbi to the Shul of the Free World. But, is there secret to staying young? And staying youthful? Here is a tip from the opening passage of this week’s Torah reading. Describing the celebrated life of our matriarch Sarah: And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah. Classic commentator Rashi explains: the reason that the word “years” was written after every digit is to tell you that every digit is to be expounded upon individually: when she was one hundred years old, she was like a twenty-year-old regarding sin... And when she was twenty, she was like a seven-year-old as regards to beauty.
A teacher of Breslav rationalizes as follows: It is common for people to say: “the good old days”…“it used to be good”…”back then I could do it.” King Solomon dispelled this notion when he said Do not say: "How was it that the former days were better than these?" For not out of wisdom have you asked concerning this. The natural tendency to say “it used to be better” is because when a child (aged 7) sees something for the first time - the sun, a bird, a tree or the snow - they are so excited, so thrilled and fascinated. But as we become adults (aged 20+) we are less enthralled and less captivated. In other words, our first encounter at earlier stages is more positive and as we grow older it is less enthralling. This then was Sarah’s message. When she was 20 she saw things and appreciated it with the same vigour and excitement as a 7 year old. Renewing ones energy in all aspects of one’s life with freshness of the heart, like an excited youthful child. The Zohar says that Sarah's life was her own. She recognized her essential nature, and her essential mission, and she did it to completion. The political debates may be old, but the excitement and promise born out of the democracy and freedoms of the USA are a shining light to us all. To the good times ahead!

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