One day, while I was teaching, I asked my students where they turn to when they need help finding something. As if on que, they all looked at me and said… “Uh… Google.” For older generations, that was not the case. Remember when we either had to go to the library to get the information we needed or dust off the encyclopedia our parents got from the door-to-door salesman or from the grocery store like my family did.
Encyclopedias were good to help look up information or facts, but what about dealing with life’s challenges or struggles? Where do people look? Well, one could walk into any bookstore (yes, thankfully, some still exist) and go to the rather larger self-help section to find answers or perspectives from hundreds, even thousands of writers.
However, as Jews, we sometimes forget that our tradition has been providing us guidance and perspective for thousands of years. We even have our own collection of books, rooted in our teachings that we can access and study to help us find answers to the difficult questions poised by life. Sometimes when we are in a difficult place, or need insight, we can look to our tradition for insight, perspective and guidance.
These teachings have provided us a set of guidelines and values of how we should live and why we should act a specific way. It is from these teachings that we learn the power of tzedakah, both on the recipient, as well as the provider. How should we treat others… treat them the way we would like to be treated. Why? Because we were all created in the image of G-d which makes us equal to one another.
The following story is an example our tradition teaches us of how to handle a period of sad time or when things are just not going our way.
“King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together. They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice: Make yourself a ring and have thereon engraved the words ‘This too will pass.’ The King carried out the advice. He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad and depressed, he looked at the ring, whereon his mood would change and he would feel cheerful.”
The next time you are faced with a difficult choice or situation, I encourage you to look to our teachings for help and guidance. Not only will you find insight or perspective, but you will become more connected to our faith, our tradition, and our community. And this is something Google has not figured out yet how to do.
JASON MOSS is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the GREATER san gabriel and pomona valleys.