Friday, July 23, 2010

Contents: Contentment

This week, our 13-year-old Avrami departed for his first-ever 'sleep-away' camp.

It’s the first time he has been away from us for more than a single night.

The camp then visited Baltimore on Thursday, so I popped in to see how he was doing.

When I caught up to them, they were in a pizzeria.

Avrami doesn’t like pizza.

(I know that's hard to believe; but he does like hamburgers and hotdogs, and Emuna’s the opposite, she’ll eat any amount of za and won’t touch the burgers or dogs with a 10-foot pole.)

Yet every signal I got from him was that he is extremely happy.

The question is: why?

Before you read on, let me throw the question to you, for your table:

What does it take for a person to be happy in a new situation?

I think it’s due to a convergence of 3 things:
- nice people
- activities that are fun and/or meaningful and sometimes challenging
- great leadership
The one thing I don’t think he necessarily has – nor needs – is like-minded people. OK, they’re like-minded enough to enjoy the same activities and basic values.

I suspect that if any one of those three factors were missing from a person’s daily life, life could become tiresome.

Question 2 for your table: If what I wrote above is true, what do we need to do to make this situation we call “Judaism” or “The Jewish People” a happier place to be?

As the 3rd promised installment of remembering Avrami’s grandfather, my father, today’s 3rd question is, Who is rich?

The answer is told by this memorable anecdote. My father was a partner in a law firm where there were sometimes….disagreements about compensation. Some lawyers feel that bringing in big clients, even once every year or so, is worthy of the greatest compensation. Others feel that producing steadily, even at a smaller scale, is more important.

My father would sit in meetings, listen to these discussions that seemed to go nowhere, and patiently wait his turn.

Finally someone would ask, “What do you think, Denny?”

“I’ll tell you what,” he said with a smile. “I’ll leave the room and you all decide what my compensation should be. Whatever you decide, that’ll be fine.”

He was the richest one in the room, because true wealth is a measurement of how contented you are with what you have.

On a scale of 1-10, how contented are you with what you have?

Shabbat Shalom

(PS – my mother always wished he would be less contented with his clothes, especially when a particular shirt or pants passed the 20-year mark!)

“Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.” - Churchill

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