Is Life Really Empty? – Parshat Haazinu
We've gone through the past seven months of COVID-19 at times asking ourselves the question of meaning. Some people have lost their livelihood, some have suffered from lingering aftereffects while others have lost family and friends. Is there meaning behind all this? Is it perhaps all meaningless suffering?
Throughout the LogoParsha blog, we talk about logotherapy (literally: healing through meaning) and that I believe there is always meaning.1 In every situation we face, meaning is omnipresent whether or not we can notice it.
I was, therefore, excited to notice that this week's parsha actually addresses this question outright. "For it is not an empty thing from you."2 The Torah always has meaning. Even if we cannot identify the meaning, that doesn’t mean that it is not present. The Jerusalem Talmud takes it one step further. Rabbi Mana noticed that there is one word in this verse that seems superfluous. "For it is not an empty thing…from you". If you do find something of the Torah that appears empty, he explains, it is because you haven’t worked hard enough yet to understand. A bit more patience and work and you will find it.3
Similarly, we all go through trauma, surprises and changes – some of which are beyond our control. Covid-19 definitely rates. Some people have found meaning in these weird and challenging times. Great! I salute you and celebrate with you this great human accomplishment.
For those who have not yet found that answer, that meaning: I invite you to not give up hope. An answer exists. You may find meaning in the ability to maintain a daily schedule and not to let covid "get the best of you." Or it may be in helping others cope with the changes and mayhem that COVID has created in their lives. Or it may be something totally different. It doesn’t make a difference.
Know that it is there. Be a little patience. Life is not empty. It is full of meaning.
Gmar Chatima Tova!!!
Have A Great Shabbat!