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Hazzan Marian's Blog

11/15/2016 05:08:04 PM

Nov15

Untangling
I remember a time, about ten years ago, while I was still in cantorial school at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.  I was on a city bus, and I was indulging in my hobby of knitting, a hobby I’d recently picked up again after a long hiatus.  I think it’s more accurate to say I was trying to indulge in my hobby of knitting.  I was trying to knit from a hank of yarn that had not yet been wound into a ball or skein.  The yarn got hopelessly tangled, and I ended up sitting on a bus with a huge, snarled mess in my lap.

It took me three days, but I managed to untangle the entire hank of yarn.  I did it by following the yarn carefully to the next tangle, patiently undoing that tangle, and then following the yarn to the next tangle.  It was frustrating, but I refused to give up.  I was determined to untangle the whole thing, and I did.  As soon as I got the whole thing untangled, I wound the yarn into a ball. And from then on, I always knew the difference between a hank and a skein. Now I never knit from yarn that is not wound into a ball.

But I learned a valuable lesson from that experience that directly relates to life.  There are very few tangles, in yarn or in life, that cannot be undone.  If we care enough, and we have enough patience, we can work through just about any tangle in life that we get ourselves into.  Of course, it’s best to avoid getting tangled up in the first place.  But inevitably we will find ourselves ensnared in things.  Life is often messy, even when we plan and make so much effort for it to be neat.   The trick is not to let the messes throw us off.  If we work at undoing them, carefully and methodically, tracing the mess back to where it started and cleaning it up as best we can, we can work through things and move on.

I often think about my lap full of tangled yarn around this time of year.  Now that we have celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah, we start reading from the beginning of the Torah again, starting with the book of Genesis. The first book of the Bible is full of tales of entanglements people have with each other.  Many of those entanglements have to do with family relationships.  Some of the entanglements our Biblical protagonists encounter get resolved; many do not.  As I read through the book of Genesis this time of year, I think about the entanglements and snarls in my life, particularly in my relationships with other people.  I think about how I can start undoing some of those tangles, and most importantly, what I can learn from how I got into that mess so that I can avoid another similar mess.  By tracing back my issues in a particular relationship or situation with other people to their root causes, I can often undo or mitigate the damage done.  And I keep reminding myself that most tangles in life can be undone.

I hope that your reading of Genesis this year provides you with some fruitful reflection and some motivation to undo some of the tangles in your life, and I look forward to seeing you at synagogue!

 
Sat, December 16 2017 28 Kislev 5778