January 20, 2022, Beis Shmuel Synagogue, Golders Green, United Kingdom
I have become a regular this week in my adopted synagogue in Golders Green. It is a little difficult to understand the local language, Yiddish, but I am managing. The prayers are a little bit different than I am used to but close enough. Over the many centuries of our people's dispersion among the nations, different traditions have developed. Thus, slightly different versions exist of the same texts, and each one is illuminating and interesting. And I find myself reading...May it be thy will, my God and God of my fathers that the jealousy of another person should not come upon me (i.e. that I should not be jealous of others) and that others should not be jealous of me, and that I should not be angry today, and I should not make you angry, and guard me from the Evil Inclination, and place in my heart submissiveness and humility.
These are just a few of the words of the prayer. Few but profound, and if one thinks about them, and takes them to heart, they can have a powerful impact on the universe. Really? Yes, really.
Let us begin the lesson: We are plagued by jealousy. Most of business is based upon this understanding. And businesses will use this to take away your money. Your friend has a designer jacket, you are jealous, so instead of purchasing a practical jacket you waste your hard earned money to become equal to your friend. The entire fashion industry is based upon this, and many other industries as well. But it is far worse than that. Jealousy destroys relationships. Jealousy is a true cancer, a disease growing in our midst, and it is very difficult to overcome. That is why this has become a daily part of our prayers, we need that constant reminder, we need that daily reminder.
We must be able to rejoice in the success of another, even if we are less successful. Be happy for your friend who earned his black belt, even if you have not yet earned yours. Be happy for the colleague who received the promotion that you wanted.
Next, and let not I become the object of another's jealousy. We ask here that we not become a source of jealousy for another. We do not want to brag, to show off, to become arrogant. On the contrary, we do not want to arouse the jealousy of others. We do not want to become an obstacle in the life of another.
We next ask that we not become angry. And again there is a logical order here. If we can conquer the vice of jealousy we can avoid becoming angry. Just let things be. and so we continue. Give us submissiveness and humility: If we "submit to life", understand that there are things beyond our control, if we accept this, we will not become arrogant, we will achieve humility. We will be willing to accept that we are only human, and that we will make mistakes.
Later on the prayer continues with Build your City...establish your presence. This teaches us that the foundation of our city, the foundation of our community, begins with us. It begins with our daily prayers. It begins but Daily Reminders, for we need Daily reminders to avoid the pitfalls which are our nature. Teach us to avoid jealousy of others, teach us not to become the source of jealousy for others. Teach us Acceptance, teach us humility. and then, we will establish a community where we will feel safe and happy. This is the foundation of true self-defense.
Prayers conclude, someone has purchased sandwiches for everyone, someone has donated coffee and another has donated the milk. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...