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We Shall Overcome
Tue, 08/20/2013 - 20:00
Rabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe

In this month of Elul, when we prepare for Rosh HaShanah, we are reminded that our highest destiny is to face life’s pains and prevail, over and over again. Stamina, not giftedness, is the most precious attribute of character. Resilience is the strain of spiritual DNA that distinguishes those who build lives of purpose and beauty.

Helen Keller, deaf and blind, who managed to teach and write and educate a generation, told us: “The world is full of suffering but also full of the overcoming of it.” All around us each day are people struggling with disease, infirmity, loneliness, hunger and the possible loss of hope. Yet many of those same people are paragons of goodness, of giving and of love. It does not erase the obstacles in life, but each day they arise anew knowing that the world requires “the overcoming of it.”

Visiting my mother recently in Philadelphia, I saw a woman who for over 25 years following a cerebral hemorrhage, has been aphasic, almost completely unable to speak, confined to a wheelchair, who four years ago lost her husband. Yet her moments of understandable despair give way to laughter and declarations of love. Battlefield courage is admirable; but sometimes no less praiseworthy is the bravery of those who overcome, every day.

Rabbi David Wolpe  is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe.

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I have found that in the last 5 years I have had an unusually high amount of deaths to process, plus 2 beloved dogs. This has put me into a frame of mind and way of living that I would have never expected. I understand that when you turn 60 this will become even more prevalent. I have been so stuck in sadness. I don't know how to manage the "moving on" part. Let me also add that I'm not working, I'm not volunteering and get very little exercise. My greatest joy is to read, spend time with my dog, attend a good class at a fine, local university and hang out with my husband (No children.) Does anyone have a good book(s) that might provide me with some comfort ?

Where does this guy get his stuff? That's what I want to know. He's a Stephen Greenblatt. He's a Studs Terkel.
He's just a love. Give him the Pulitzer.
The Pulitzer of love.

Amen Happy and Healthy Rosh Hashanah and we be granted peace

And your mother expresses endless compassion with her eyes and determination to make hersefl understood, as she most often does when you listen from your heart. In fact, is stamina not yet another manifestation of giftedness? Resilience, if I may leap to other arenas, should indeed build lives of purpose and beauty. I would pray for the resilience of our people living in its national homeland to demonstrate beauty in pursuing purpose.

Dear Rabbi Wolpe : A wonderful preaching! You are right: Stamina is the basis of character and we need to me reminded this often not to lose hope and fall into despair with so many obstacles and challenges other people place into our lives, who are calm and quiet at our home, doing our tasks, willing to work for God and relief of the needy and so forth. God Bless you!

Your mother and my late mother-in-law, Bessie Savitz Gorodetzer were cousins. I remember your mother and your maternal grandparents very well. My in-laws owned the Chateau Garod, a catering establishment in Brookline, MA. I also remember your father, when he filled in at Temple Emanuel in Palm Beach.
My daughter, JoAnn and I regularly read your notes on facebook and get a great deal from them.
Take care of yourself and be well and continue giving us food for thought.
Marilyn S. Gorodetzer

Dave, while I like the idea of stamina being essential to building a worthwhile life, I can't believe that living is always worthwhile.

Even though I have a protestant Bible, I have read over and over the miraculous ways in which God has brought His chosen people through so much, as you said. What we see in Israel today thrills my heart as more and more Jews return to their homeland. I've read of the amazing discoveries recently made in Jerusalem, which make me want to visit Israel even more. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I stand with her and I KNOW God will preserve her. Her enemies think (fruitlessly) that they can erase Israel from the face of the earth. Little to nothing do they know of Israel's strength as their God is with them always.

Yes and the WORD tells us that his people win in the end!

Amen. I watched my Mom as she struggled and suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis - never complaining and never wanting to be a burden.
Powerless over this disease, her incredible strength and ongoing battle against excruciating pain continued for decades. Despite this challenge, her attitude was always loving and positive- my Mom was the bravest person I ever met.

great word