Shabbat Shalom: Long-Term Instant Gratitude
By: Bethany Friedlander
PJ Library Manager
My 16-year-old daughter was patient enough to explain the nuances of Instagram. It’s fast. It’s immediate. You are in the know NOW. Total instant gratification. There is something reassuring to know that there are friends out there responding so quickly to a goofy post, a silly picture, or serious wants and needs, especially when we are not able to physically be with others. We are lucky to live in an age when we can use a device, and our best buddies are sitting virtually in our living room.
But how do those interactions change when we know we have to wait? What different value is there in texting someone to make a time to meet for boba tea and sitting down to sip, laugh, and hug? How about sending a letter (or receiving one) with a stamp? How do we feel when we plan a trip to see an old friend…in three months? What is it like to attend a cousin’s kid’s bar mitzvah after waiting 13 years for such an occasion?
This week in our Torah portion, Parashat Vayetzei, Jacob gets some of both – instant gratification and long-term anticipation. Jacob goes to sleep, dreams of angels going up and down a ladder to heaven and hears that he will be quite blessed. He awoke and was awestruck. Imagine what his Instagram post would have said: “Dude, I slept on a rock and saw heaven – new line of Evan Pillows on Etsy coming soon.”
He then decides to get up, leave the place of instant gratification and continue. He ends up at his uncle’s house and works for 20 years – seven years for the wife he didn’t want, seven years for the one he really wanted, and six more for a flock of speckled and spotted animals. He gained family, flocks, a new nation and maybe even a new line of pillows. Why did he decide to not stay an instant? Why did he choose to get up and go forth?
As we come out of the Thanksgiving holiday and into the upcoming holiday season, how do we assess what we are thankful for at this moment and how do we decide to move forward to uncharted territory? When do we know when instant thanks – drive-thru food, a new puppy dog, a text from an old friend – may inspire us to move forward and reach for those moments that take time and lots of extra work – a homemade dinner with friends, puppy training, a boba tea date? How do we know what we or others need and make the decision that is needed NOW or something in the future? Maybe it takes some daydreaming and a bit of sweat.
May our upcoming holiday season be filled with instants and long-term aspiration with happy posts, stamped letters, warm drinks, and comfy pillows helping us to dream big.
Shabbat Shalom, Colorado.
Please email Bethany Friedlander at email@example.com with comments or questions.