By Rabbi Jeffrey M. Arnowitz
We learn in the Book of Proverbs, “If worry is in a person’s heart, it weighs it down.” As we approach the next few months, I cannot help but think about this verse as it pertains to us. As I have spoken to many of you over these last few weeks, I have heard a lot of heavy hearts. This is more than understandable. Of course we are worried and of course our hearts are heavy, as we enter the long, cold winter months while the pandemic still ravages our lives and our activities.
However, according to Proverbs, it is worry itself that weighs down the heart, even more than the situation at hand. We should all be a little afraid these days. Fear can be healthy when it sharpens our ability to manage difficult and dangerous situations. Worry on the other hand is not a healthy emotion. Worry comes when fear mixes with imagination; we perseverate on the worst and most extreme “what ifs” our creative minds can invent. The added weight of the worry makes it difficult to move, no less react appropriately to the situation. So what can we do?
You may remember the children’s game “Light as Feather, Stiff as a Board.” It was a trick at sleepover parties. One person would lie down and everyone else would put just their index fingers under that person. On the count of three, everyone would lift and, low and behold, the person would rise. This wasn’t magic, but simple physics. When the weight was distributed among the friends, they could carry the burden together. And so it is with our heavy hearts.
As we face the reality of the winter, your WJC family has worked hard to create opportunities for virtual togetherness that are designed to help us share the weight of our worry and redirect energy to positive paths. If you haven’t come to a virtual service lately, give it a try—we are getting better and better at making them meaningful and worthwhile. Come to some of our programming—from dance parties to tours of Jerusalem, from volunteer projects to classes, there are so many opportunities to learn, laugh, and live together. And when we do, that heaviness in our hearts will become lighter, because we’ll carry the weight of worry together. We are reaching out our hands to hold you up. I hope you’ll lend your hand as well and, low and behold, we will rise out of this darkness together.