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Wanted: Flexibility

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I spoke yesterday afternoon by zoom with staff of a school and learned that half of their teachers and students had tested positive for the coronavirus. Try to imagine such a mess. The principal gave the staff a simple message that helped me get through the day: "A person should always be soft like a reed and never hard like a cedar tree." 

This idea is highly appropriate for us at this time. Whoever is as hard as a cedar, stubborn and inflexible, will find himself in crisis mode. Whoever knows how to be soft like a reed, to bow, to humble himself to constantly changing circumstances, will prevail. The strong do not survive; the flexible do.

Several hours later, a member of my own family also tested positive. This disrupted his plans as well as ours for the coming days. And then a meeting was canceled after one of the participants got stuck in a long line waiting to be tested.

Again and again I was reminded of the need for flexibility as our fifth wave begins. Our internal stability and tranquility could be undermined once again. Yet instead of dwelling on disappointment due to circumstances, we need to accept that plans are likely to change at any moment, and that we need to just relax.

The virtue of the reed, the Talmud continues, is that it is made into a soft pen for writing Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot. Softness leads to holiness.

May all who have tested positive have a complete recovery and may everyone hear only good news.


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