Pictured above are my kids, walking arm in arm, on our way to the park. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The park is just close enough for a walk. It’s not the first time and it’s not the last time.
For me, this picture illustrates one of my core beliefs– that the stuff of daily life is what matters most. Sure there’ll be “Sinai” moments in life (along with the accompanying “Wilderness” moments too), but for the most part, simple daily living is what matters most. I’ll put it this way– if and when my life passes before my eyes as I prepare for the Great Beyond, I don’t think it will be the Sinai moments that come rushing in. I think it will be the regular moments like the one captured in the image above. In an ideal world, my last mortal thought will hopefully be a sense of overwhelming appreciation for whatever experience I’ve just had in the preceding moments.
If we wait for “Sinai” moments to encounter our deepest appreciation and depth of feeling, then much of life’s beauty will go unacknowledged.
I studied the Talmud as a rabbinical student and, to the extent that I’m able, I continue to study. One principle has always stood at to me: Tadir u’sheyno tadir, tadir kodem (Zevachim 89a). I’ll translate it this way: When the regular and the exceptional clash, the regular wins out. For example– we light the Havdallah candle before the Chanukiyah on the Saturday night of Chanukah. Or better– we don’t blow shofar when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat. The regular, the stuff that really populates our existence– that stuff counts a lot.
While this may seem like a reasonably obvious idea, we’re hardwired as people to focus on the exceptional. The sporadic, episodic, routine-shattering, novel things in life have a funny way of captivating us. It’s understandable. Routine has a way of becoming… routine. Daily occurrences are by their nature more or less mundane. We can’t live in a constant state of rule breaking, expectation defying, shock and amazement.
Our children, our parents, our spouses, our siblings, our friends, our co-workers– the people that we see, live with, and work with day after day– they are the tadir in our lives. Let’s celebrate the fact that we journey through life surrounded by people whose regularity reminds us just how truly blessed we are.