Beth Shalom Columbia

The Rabbi


Here is a parable for our lives:

 A family climbs aboard a train.They have no car, no place to call home either.Each member carries his own suitcase.The parents have their heavy suitcases full of a lifetime’s accumulations.children bear only small packages.

 The little ones have a future.And that future is worth all the massive suitcases in the world.

Yet, in both instances we grip our suitcases as if they are the only things in the world.  We live in the present, rocketing toward some determined destination. We bought the ticket, boarded the train, packed our valuables and believe we have taken all the necessary steps for taking charge of our destiny.  But that is far from the truth.  After many years of life, we ultimately conclude that we have little power to control our future.

The late Carl Sagan once explained the difference between an astronomer and an astrologer: “An astronomer can predict precisely where every star will be at 11:30 on any given night, but cannot say the same for his teenage daughter. For that, you need an astrologer!”

We all have dreams, visions and extensive plans for the future.   Retirement accounts and insurance are a hedge against our well-devised plans.  And still the unforeseen happens. Throughout the ages people have turned to divination, necromancy, enchantments, horoscopes, I Ching, and cryptic biblical passages that they believe will open the gates of what-will-come. “Indeed, he does not know what is to happen,” declares King Solomon, “even when it is on the point of happening, who can tell him?”

In the Talmud, the sage Rabbi Yochanan taught: “Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children.”  Rabbi Yochanan was warning us against placing faith in our articulately designed plans.  Indeed, countless horrors have been committed throughout history because nations and religions refused to conform their beliefs to reality. Instead they sought to make reality conform to their beliefs, which resulted in terrible events (thank G-d there were no catastrophes because of the Mayan calendar last year).

Again the wise Solomon advises, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”

Do not live your life trying to peer behind impenetrable curtains.

Seek joy. Live each day.

Rabbi Jonathan Case


Beth Shalom Synagogue

Your Jewish Home in Columbia, SC
5827 N. Trenholm Road Columbia, SC 29206
Phone: 803.782.2500
Fax: 803.782.5420

5827 N. Trenholm Road
Columbia, SC 29206

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