Complain or Appreciate, Bemoan or Thank

by Arliene Botnick, January 28, 2021

Our biblical narrative has numerous examples of our propensity to complain rather than appreciate. It appears that for some 430 years, our ancestors spent a significant time ‘kvetching’ = complaining.

In the book of Exodus, parashat B’shalach, we read:

In the wilderness the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. They complain, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Eternal in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread.

Not only do they complain, but they seem to have forgotten that their time in Egypt was not filled with food aplenty. They glorify the past with false memories because they now, in the desert, are having a hard time.

Later, in Leviticus, we again hear the complaints – Numbers 11 “The people took to complaining bitterly before the Eternal” And once again, their memories of the past are fantasies, saying that in Egypt they ate plentifully (cucumbers, melons, leeks). The gift of Manna is not appreciated.

The reality is, that in difficult times, when life is hard, we all complain, we get nostalgic about the “good old days”, when often they were not so good.

Today, we too are living in difficult times, on an unmapped journey (as were our ancestors), and not knowing how long the trip to the promised land (in this case, life without Covid) will take, nor the exact right way to get to our destination. And, as in other difficult times, we complain.

But today, in this article, I’m asking you not to forget about the hardships, or the lockdowns, or the loss of those great amenities like theatre, dining out, attending services in person,but to be thankful for what we do have and to thank those that are working so hard to make our situations as bearable as possible.

In particular, I want us all, in this Solel community, to say thanks to all the volunteers who are doing their best to keep us connected, informed, educated, and loved. And I’d like to list, not by name, but by the efforts they have made for our community.

Just this past week, 7 Solel members/teachers drove around Mississauga, Etobicoke, Oakville, Brampton, and Belfountain, delivering to all our school families Tu B’Shevat packages that the UJA generously prepared for our kids. Hours of volunteering by some very special people.

Each Tuesday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning, our avocational teachers prepare and teach lessons online (which is no easy feat)! so that our children can continue learning “Jewishly”. Every week, our Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutors are meeting online with students, preparing them to become Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

The amount of time and caring put into our school programme by volunteers who basically receive only an honorarium is something for which we should be thankful. Each week, members of our Mitzvah Committee (and others) are calling other Solel members to make sure they are OK and just “talking to them”, bringing comfort to lonely people. At services, which our Rabbi is leading so beautifully, we have volunteer chanters, story tellers, musicians, readers giving their time to be part of our services.

One volunteer is doing an amazingly gigantic task. He is doing all the A.V. work at Solel, the live streaming, the Shammas production, all the “techie” stuff that keeps us together. One can’t begin to count how many hours are volunteered.

The Board, Executive, Committees are working to plan programmes, manage finances, oversee the building renovations and keep Solel running smoothly for all. (And wait till you see the newly renovated Solel!)

Solel’s staff’s job is made so much easier by the support and effort of all our volunteers.
So in this time of Covid, let’s say thanks for all the “good stuff’. Hopefully, we all stay healthy, and we continue to support one another in our Jewish community and appreciate what we have. Let’s leave the kvetching “in the desert!”

Filed under: Educator's Message

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