Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sorry, But It's Not Up to You

I was reading a review for Barbara Ehrenreich's new book when this quoted passage caught my interest: 
“Every death can now be understood as suicide,” she writes. “We persist in subjecting anyone who dies at a seemingly untimely age to a kind of bio-moral autopsy: Did she smoke? Drink excessively? Eat too much fat and not enough fiber? Can she, in other words, be blamed for her own death?”
I would like to preface that I am a recovering "blamer" myself. There are those who do not take care of themselves to glaring degrees, and pay the price; but there are others who do not. On the flip side, there are those who treat their bodies like temples but are still stricken with illness; there are those who live to ripe old ages.

In a time when humans were more reliant on nature ("Shakai," as the Avos knew Him), we understood, quite clearly, that we are not in control. As technology advanced—irrigation instead of praying for ideal rainfall (not too much, not too little)—and farming was no longer the means for support, we started to believe, more and more, in our own powers. 

Morahs would snarkily invoke, "Kochi v'otzem yadi," and we would think, "That's not me, of course. I believe in God, and in Him alone. I don't think that it all comes from my efforts." But we do. In work, in dating, in health, in child-rearing, in parking spots. I got it. I did it. 

I'm still being quizzed as to the circumstances of Ma's passing. "But she was so healthy!" they exclaim dazedly. If the one who took care of herself (and did encourage others to do so as well) was felled by illness, what of them? If she can't be blamed, that means they are vulnerable too.

No one likes feeling subject to forces outside of their control. It's terrifying. Yet we aren't responsible for the good in our lives, either. We can't control beneficial situations. We are subject to bracha. We are subject to seeming klala. None are immune, whatever we may think. 

So we each gotta do what we gotta do, and there's only one Entity we must rely on.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said.