Earlier this week, I joined the “Roundtable with the Rabbi” program. It is a monthly gathering for senior members of the congregation. Their ages ranged from 78 to 101 years old. We celebrated birthdays, indulged in ice cream and enjoyed conversation. While I typically prepare a discussion topic for these gatherings, the trigger for this exchange was an observation from a participant.
A comment was made that a common characteristic of many people who reach “old age” is a strong sense of resilience – the ability to rebound from difficult or tragic experiences. Some attributed their resilience to having interests that gave them purpose or feeling integrated into a community. Others ascribed their resilience to having a sense of faith.
I believe each of these traits – purpose, community and faith – contributes to developing resilience. Judaism combines all three of these characteristics. Judaism provides a framework for us to learn from preceding generations and to see beyond ourselves. In looking back through history, we can be reassured that adversity is not unique to our circumstance – we are not alone. Our joys or our hardships are shared.
My next question and texts for reflection are:
Question #3: How are you resilient?
“What are we here for? The Darwinian answer to this question is that we are here to make more of us; reproduction is the end of life. We are here so that we can remain here. We do not know anything beyond that.
Religion, on the other hand, answers that question on a different, deeper level. We are here to grow in soul, to achieve goodness, to work for causes larger than existence alone. Righteousness and devotion are the expressions of a life of sanctity.”
– David Wolpe, Why Faith Matters
“The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.”
– Martin Buber, Pointing the Way “With a Monist”