Uriel Vigler

How Was Your 2021?

If I asked you to define 2021 in a single word, what would you choose?

My inbox (and yours, too, I’m sure) is flooded with year-end reports from every organization I’ve ever interacted (or not interacted) with. Every news site is sending out lists of their top news stories for 2021; Google sent out a report of the most Googled subjects; Peloton sent me a video summarizing all my workouts; Google photos and Facebook are not to be undone.

But if you had to sum up your year in just one word, what would it be? Think carefully. In fact, I actually tried this out on WhatsApp with a handful of friends and their responses included: “ineffective,” “blessed,” “expressive,” passionate,” “horrible,” and “depressing.”

Another person responded, “doomed.” Which made me think of a WhatsApp group some friends of mine added me to this year, which they called, “Hopeless, we’re doomed.” And have you heard of “doom scrolling”? The term was searched more this year than ever before. When you’re surrounded by bad news, it’s tempting to go to either extreme—a) avoid all mention of it, or b) obsessively collect every detail. The latter now has a name—doom scrolling.

But the truth is, at the end of the day, we get to decide how we define 2021. It’s what we made of it.

When I think about my year, the word that comes to mind is “gevaldik.”

Gevaldik because there were 365 days in 2021, and every moment of every day was an opportunity to connect with G-d in the deepest sense. A chance to fulfill my mission in life. And that generates the happiest and most fulfilling moments. Everything else that happened was secondary; background noise.

Interestingly, the most listened to song in Israel this year, popular among religious and secular Jews alike, was “Sibat Hasibot” by Ishay Ribo, which is all about our deep and resounding faith in G-d. Yes, we Jews tend to argue, and yes, we’ve had a rough year including a war, many tragedies, and deaths, but at the end of the day what are we listening to across the country? A song that describes our unyielding belief in our Creator and His plan.

If you think deeply about your 2021, surely you too will discover that it was gevaldik.

And if I ask you to define how you think 2022 will go, you can choose that it, too, will be gevaldik!

About the Author
Zimbabwean-born Rabbi Uriel Vigler has been directing the Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side of Manhattan together with his wife Shevy since 2005. In addition, he founded Belev Echad which helps wounded IDF soldiers. He has a weekly blog on current events. He is the proud father of eight children (including triplets) and leads a very young, vibrant and dynamic community.
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