| I really didn’t want to write about the snow and the cold. Really. It’s so in our faces… why belabor the obvious? But I read the New York Times today with interest and alarm. http://tinyurl.com/k2qfsxr It inspired me to think about the current environmental/meteorological situation through a Before Shabbat lens. And so what follows is a Before Shabbat list of reflections on this white stuff. Because what we’re living with is more than just a simple inconvenience.
1. The Lines Are Drawn Between Good and Evil – or at least, Nice and Not Nice.
Being on the road during this snow emergency – and it is still a snow emergency! – one comes to appreciate fellow drivers who motor with caution. When you approach an intersection bordered by Mt. Everest you have to anticipate the possibility that a car is lurking at the summit. Just slow down a bit… is this too much to ask? For some apparently yes, it is too much. The lack of common courtesy for people in extremis is a measure of the compassion of a culture.
Certain families say of certain loved ones, living and dead, that they never complain. No matter what, they are always positive and optimistic. I would like it to be said of me by my children and my spouse that I never complained. They won’t say that. I have been complaining – a lot – about the snow. It’s so cold! It’s so icy! I hate having to walk the dog at night! Blah blah blah… I hate hearing myself complain about this situation. The fact is that we are all in it together and moaning about it changes nothing. Hang in there! Or as Nahum of Gimzo said, “Gam zu le-ṭobah,” [It will turn out fine], which is characteristic of the irrepressible optimism of the Jewish world-conception (Ta’an. 21a).
But… don’t say this is no big deal. Don’t say “What do you expect? We live in New England.” This is unprecedented.
When I do complain about driving or being cold, I need to pause and consider that there are folks who depend on the T to get to and from work, which means that they have been waiting in long lines, crowded into buses and trolleys and train cars. And then they’re lucky because at least they’re getting home!
There is true suffering out there in the snow. Job loss, homelessness, businesses in peril, roofs collapsing, and so forth. As it said in the Times, “We are being devastated by a slow-motion natural disaster of historic proportions. The disaster is eerily quiet. There are no floating bodies or vistas of destroyed homes. But there’s no denying that this is a catastrophe.” http://tinyurl.com/oreofpl