2010-10-08 / Columnists

Point of View

“The Rabbi’s Personal Column” Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park

The story is told of two children arguing. The boy says, “God doesn’t answer prayers.” The girl says, “Yes he does.” “I asked God for a two wheeler bike for Chanukah and didn’t get it, so God doesn’t answer prayers” he said. “Yes he does” said the girl, “He just said no!”

What should we do when God or life says no? Moses was faced with this issue. God told him that he would not enter the Promised Land. He pleaded with God, God still said no. What was Moses to do? His response was to keep on moving ahead and doing the things that he had always done. We are told that on the day of his death he was busy reentering the people into the covenant of God, from this we can learn that when God says no, keep on walking!

Life says no to us at different times in our lives. One goes into business and fails. Do we give up? Abraham Lincoln failed and failed in business and then became President of the United States as was the case with Harry Truman, the “haberdasher,” who ultimately became President. A young person is depressed at not getting into the right graduate school or enters a profession and after a number of years gets “burnt out.” Sometimes a marriage fails or children are a disappointment. What to do? The answer is to keep moving and not to give up, especially on children. One never knows what the future will bring.

For some, health declines and we can’t do what we have always done. In New York City I see handicapped people of all ages refuse to give up. They travel in electric powered chairs waiting for buses, going shopping, entering the movies, refusing to let life defeat them. They press on.

A young philosopher of the early twentieth century, Franz Rosenzweig, was stricken with A.L.S. (Lou Gehrigs Disease). Although almost completely paralyzed he tapped with his fingers and blinked with his eyes and was able to communicate with his secretary and his book, “Star of Redemption,” appeared. Lance Armstrong suffered from testicular cancer which metastasized to his brain and yet he won the “Tour de France” seven times! In the doomed Warsaw Ghetto knowing that life had said no they continued to conduct classes and teach Torah. When life says no we need to turn defeat into success. When life presents us with a lemon we need to learn how to make lemonade.

A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat. “I’m the greatest hitter in the world,” he announced. Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. “Strike One!” he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air. When it came down he swung again and missed. “Strike Two!” he cried. The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. “Strike Three!” “Wow!” he exclaimed. I’m the greatest pitcher in the world.”

Someone once said that a trying time is not a time to stop trying; in time of disappointment and failure, in times of illness and frustration we must keep walking. One of my favorite plays was “Liliom,” composed by an Hungarian playwright, “Ferene Molnar” and converted into a wildly successful musical, “Carousal.” One of its songs is as follows:
When you walk through a storm Keep your chin up high And don’t be afraid of the dark At the end of the storm Is a golden sky And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the sun
Tho’ your dreams be tossed
and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone.

I pray that life will say yes to all our worthy requests, but if God, life

or destiny says no then wise people to the extent of their abilities keep

walking on! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This monthly column continues with thanks to an anonymous donor.

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