Water and Diamonds

We sit in our homes in “splendid isolation” busily working remotely at jobs, watching tv, reading, playing sudoku, piecing together jigsaw puzzles, keeping our children focused on school amid a million other activities… nevertheless, we are scared and afraid.

Afraid of the unknown, afraid of the known.

Our physical well being and that of our families is our utmost concern; the fluidity and perhaps even precariousness of our personal economic situation keeps us up at night; we have difficulty placing our online orders for groceries and there is a 70 minute wait time for customer assistance!

We conducted our Passover Sedarim on Zoom (giving new meaning to the old song:  (“Zoom Golly Golly”)!  Classes for young and old, worship services being held on multiple platforms and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people around the world, are availing themselves of virtual geographic and cultural tours, all without the cost of admission.

Yesterday, a neighbor voicing her frustration (while maintaining proper social distance), said to me:  “I am so tired of this, I just want to be able to hug somebody!”

We miss the warmth of friends coming over for coffee and conversation.  We thirst, not being able to give a hug and a kiss to family members outside our home.  We hunger to hold our grandchildren and have them crawl over us, inflating air mattresses for their sleepovers and play in our homes.  We miss dinner parties and BBQs in our backyards with friends and neighbors.

We hunger…we miss…we thirst…

A time of crisis such as this, reminds us how vital to our lives are family and friendship.  We have known it all along, but in the hustle and controlled chaos of our pre-Virus busy lives, may have allowed them to be pushed into the recesses of our souls, not treated them as the beautiful flowers they are or taken them for granted.

A wealthy merchant, crossing the desert, was overtaken by a deadly sand storm. becoming separated from his caravan, he soon found himself alone and lost in the sandy wilderness; days of wandering aimlessly led him in circles and in need of food and water.  In desperation, he made one last effort to find an as yet, undiscovered sack of food or skin of water.

Suddenly, his heart skipped a beat, when he came upon a small pouch he had previously overlooked.

With shaking hands and trembling fingers, he opened the pouch.  A cry of despair came from his dry throat, for instead of water, the only thing that poured from the sack and across his cracked lips, was a stream of tiny diamonds.

That merchant would have traded all his wealth, which ultimately proved meaningless, for a drink of water.  Similarly, this crisis has proven to us that without our family and friends, something within our souls has shriveled and died.

Eventually this crisis will end.  Businesses and schools will reopen and the story of how and when we wore our masks and gloves as well as our quest for toilet paper and sanitizer wipes will become part of future family narratives.  A new normal will develop and human nature being what it is, we will probably drift back to our old ways.

It will be exactly at that time that we need remind ourselves that nothing is more valuable or precious than our family and friends.  May we treat them as the beautiful flowers they are and never take them for granted, for they are our stream of tiny, life-sustaining diamonds.

About the Author
Rabbi Norman S. Lipson is Founding Rabbi of Temple Dor Dorim in Weston, Florida. Israel advocacy and education have been in the forefront of Rabbi Lipson's more than 48 years in the rabbinate. Having led numerous Pilgrimages to Israel, he teaches about Israel and Judaism through inter-faith and adult education programs in South Florida. A graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of two books: “How Many Memories Make a Minyan?” and “Rabbi, My Dog Ate My Shofar!” both available on Kindle Bookstore.
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