By Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum
Can we cancel 2020? Like simply skipping directly to 2021? Will anyone be upset about it?
I have seen many funny memes about 2020. But one particular meme got me to laugh pretty hard. It’s actually not about 2020 but about the current Jewish calendar year we are about to close, 5780.
“They say our actions on the High Holidays determine what will be decreed for the upcoming year. So whatever the heck you guys did last year, please don’t do it again!”
After LOL’ing, it got me thinking about “cancelling 2020” and “cancelling 5780.” And then, a quote came to mind. A quote that is simply so perfect for our situation.
The quote is from Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. He was imprisoned and tortured in Soviet Russia because of his work to spread Judaism behind the Iron Curtain.
After he was released from prison, his disciples asked him how he felt about it. He replied, “If I would be offered millions to experience one more moment of suffering – I wouldn’t buy. And if anyone would want to pay me millions to take away one moment of my suffering – I wouldn’t sell!”
The Rebbe didn’t elaborate further, but I think that the message is simple. Challenges are difficult, but they can also uplift you. One should never choose to experience challenges, but in hindsight we can appreciate how it made us better.
So I don’t want to cancel 5780.
Not the moments that forced me to take a step back from the hustle of life.
Not the moments that reminded me what’s important and what’s less important.
Not the new appreciation of what is essential, and what is not truly essential.
Not the beauty I saw all around me, when the entire country simply rallied to help one another.
Not the feeling of closeness to G-d when I prayed from the bottom of my heart that things should get better already.
Not the time spent with my family with very little distraction.
Do I want more of it? Not even if you pay me millions. But I do know that 5780 had many gifts. Hidden, but gifts nonetheless.
Onward and upward!
May we all be blessed with a Shana Tova U’metuka. A happy, healthy and sweet new year up ahead for ourselves and our loved ones.
Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum is the senior rabbi and spiritual leader at the Village Chabad Center for Jewish life & Learning in East Setauket. Visit EnjoyHighHolidays.com for a schedule of COVID-safe outdoor holidays at Village Chabad. Masks, social distancing, and preregistration is required. To RSVP for a “60 Minute Power Hour” Rosh Hashanah service and Shofar blowing on Sept. 20, visit MyVillageChabad.com/HHPowerHour.