Published November 2019
Tsoros and Simchas
Consider the situation of the 102 passengers who landed at Plymouth Rock and celebrated the first American Thanksgiving. Of them 51 died in the first sixth months; not a single family was spared. They were buried in a common grave that was kept level so the native Americans would not know of the casualties. The survivors lived on the fringe of starvation in a hostile, uncharted world. Yet their faith was so profound and their attitude so trusting that they took stock and were thankful for what they had – freedom, opportunity, and most of all, mutual help. Even in their distress they found a degree of gratitude.
Similarly, we each have our personal pack of troubles, and each year it gets a little heavier. But each year we also get a little stronger, a little wiser and a little more philosophical. Each year there are also simchas- Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a wedding, a graduation to enjoy, a promotion to celebrate, friendships to share, birthdays and memories of good times gone by, but never forgotten.
That is why Judaism teaches that though ultimately all the prayers may be abolished, prayers of thanksgiving will still be needed. Or as that maxim says that my mother always quoted: “Count your blessings, and when you are done, count them all over again, one by one.” Life has plenty of tsoros; but be grateful for the episodes of contentment.
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD