From the Rabbi - December 2011 Print
Dear Friends:

The period between mid-November and the end of December is a time when we traditionally assess our lives.  We are particularly conscious of the physical blessings that we have been given, our health, our shelter, our nourishment and, especially, our families.  To be sure, each of us has areas of concern, needs that are not fulfilled and problems that have yet to be resolved.  Our lives are hardy perfect.  Yet, compared to the lot of many other people, even people in Corpus Christi, we do have a lot with which to be satisfied.  As we add up our achievements and our acquisitions at the end of the year, the word “Thanks” easily comes to our lips.  In Pirke Avot, an ancient rabbi, Ben Zoma, asked “Who is rich?”  His response to his own question was that a rich person is “content with what he already has.”  There’s a great deal to make us content.

But the prophets of biblical Israel (and their successors through the ages) have stressed that we ought not to look at the world as it is, but as it ought to be.  It’s hard not to be aware of the imperfections of our society.  In areas of our city, there is a high propensity for violence, drug use, gang activities.  I spoke at King High School the other evening, and the principal told me that of roughly 800 students who enter as freshmen, only about 550-575 graduate.  Some, of course, move out of the city and some go to other schools, but the majority of this nearly 30% loss end up with marginal literacy and minimal employable skills.  How sad!  And then there are the bigger, world-wide issues of which we are all aware: disease, poverty, malnutrition, war, prejudice, disasters of every sort.

As satisfied as we may be with our lot in life, we cannot be smugly complacent in the face of the indignities with which fellow human beings are confronted every day.  So this period of reassessment and gratitude ought also prompt us to think about ways in which we can improve the world in which we live.  There are so many things – large and small – that each individual can undertake.  All it requires is a little determination and motivation.  It would be very nice if our good fortune would prompt each of us to find something to do that would move our world away from what is and toward what ought to be.

            Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi