Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

We are living in times where abundance is very much a part of our daily lives. Whether one has more than the next isn’t the issue, since so many of us have so much these days. We aren’t living in times of war or great depression. Nor are we living during the horrific Holocaust. Unfortunately, Jewish history is filled with harsh and ongoing suffering. Today, we as Jews are free to practice Judaism freely and walk about in almost any country in the world without fear of persecution just because of our lineage. Furthermore, there is food in abundance like never before. True, there are still people who are hungry and have to make major efforts before they can put food on their table. Despite this, we have so much.

Yet each and every one of us has his or her challenges. And many a time one might look at the “grass” on the other side of the fence and feel that he or she is suffering and that the neighbor’s home is much more attractive than his or her own home. This type of thought creeps into almost all of our minds.


There is a song that I heard when I was just a young girl. At the time it didn’t mean much to me, because I had no responsibilities or a family to care for. Today as a grown woman, I feel that this song has great meaning and insight as to how we should look at life in a different light:

“The old man said to me/ ‘Don’t always take life so seriously/ Play the flute/ And dance and sing your song,/ Try and enjoy the here and now/ The future will take care of itself somehow/ The grass is never greener over there./ Time will wear away our bone./ Don’t try to live your life in one day,/ Don’t go speed your time away.’/ The old man said to me,/ ‘You can’t change the world single-handedly/ Raise a glass and enjoy the scenery./ Pretend the water is champagne/ And fill my glass again and again,/ While the wolves are gathering round your door./ Tried to live my life in one day,/ I bit off more than I can chew/ Only so much I can do./ Wolves are gathering round my door/ Ask them in and invite some more./ Don’t try to live your live in one day,/ Don’t go speed your time away.’ ”

A simple song with great meaning. The older we get, the wiser we get, and the more mistakes we have made over time, the more experience we have gained. And still we tend to forget on a daily basis how fortunate we truly are, with the “grass” on our side. At different points in our lives, we might be so busy looking around us that we might miss all that is underneath our very own tree.

To begin with, no one really knows what goes on in every other person’s home. And secondly, if we look closely at what we were given from the One above, we might just discover how very “rich” we really are. Riches aren’t just wealth. As a matter of fact, riches are what the Talmud defines them as: “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.”

And that lot can be in all shapes, sizes and forms. Sometimes we who are not yet married can feel jealous of others who have gotten married already, and sometimes someone else gets the job position that we really want. Sometimes we would like to go on a wonderful vacation but can’t afford it, or others live in a fancy home and have those “perfect” children and so on. The list is never ending. We have holy books filled with teachings on how to be happy with what we have and great scholars who give classes on how to go on the right and humble path in life. And yet we still fall short in this area many a time.

What’s closest to the heart is usually the hardest thing to fix or change. It’s part of our nature. To remove a bad trait might take a lifetime. But to be busy with doing good deeds to others is adding good traits into your heart’s “bank,” and that good will slowly become greater than the bad traits. Adding good makes the bad will leave on its own without a conscious effort, and when there is no battle to fight, things get done in a quiet and much stronger way.

I feel that it’s truly important to remind ourselves to stop and look at what we have. Then we should work on feeling grateful for it all. And if we want to look at our neighbors’ or other people’s “grass,” we should look to see how we can give them a good word or compliment them on some achievement that they made.

I have a neighbor who isn’t an observant Jew. In Israel, there can be a lot of animosity between the religious Jews and the secular Jews. I try to be kind to all and keep my religious thoughts to myself. I hope that this way maybe there can be some connection between us; after all, we are all brothers and sisters.

This past Friday, my neighbor approached me that she was making a bat mitzvah party for her child and she hoped not to make too much noise. I in turn replied, “It’s such a quiet neighborhood. I’m so glad that there will be some noise.” This of course brought a smile to her face and she was off.

It was almost Shabbat and the challahs that I had just baked were nice and hot. I wrapped one pretty challah in a fancy napkin on a fancy plastic plate and I called over the fence to my neighbor and her daughter. When they approached, I wished them a big mazal tov and handed them the challah.

They looked at me and then I said.” I’m not so good at making many things, but challah is my forte. When I made this challah, I prayed to G-d to put love for one another and happiness with what He has given us into the challah. This is my gift to you as you enter adulthood. May you always have the heart and the eyesight to see the good in others and be thankful for all you have.”

They smiled and thanked me for the challah and the special blessing. At that moment I had put a bit of good inside of my heart and pushed aside a bit of my negative thoughts. May we try daily to add a bit of good to our thoughts and push out any unwanted thoughts. In this way, we will be that much happier today and ever thankful.


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