Can You Stop Kvetching Already?

Salmon bagel

Question of the Week:
I have nothing against circumcision. It is an ancient tradition and I will keep it for my children. But I do have an issue with the bagels and lox afterwards. The kid is in pain, we just did a surgical procedure, and then we all eat. Isn’t that a little incongruous? We don’t eat bagels after operating on an ingrown toenail, so why after a Bris?

Answer:

People like to kvetch. Kvetch is the Yiddish word that means to complain, moan, grumble and whine. Some kvetches are justified. But most kvetching is unnecessary. It comes from a mistaken expectation that life should run smoothly, so when it doesn’t, we kvetch. We want to avoid this misconception, so we give our children a Bris.

The Bris teaches your newborn that life is not always easy, so don’t expect it to be. You are in this world to work hard on improving yourself, to really change and refine your being. You will only succeed in this if you are willing to give up on some pleasures. It may even hurt. But despite the pain we do it because that is our purpose, to elevate ourselves and our world to a higher place than it was when we arrived in it.

There are two ways you can go about the hard work ahead of you. You can do it as a martyr, seeing life as a burden and a pain, and you can kvetch about how hard everything is. Or you can do it with joy. You can celebrate the opportunity you have to face whatever life throws at you, and take pleasure in the challenge to develop your soul into all it can be.

By having a festive meal at a Bris, we are choosing the second path. Life can be hard. But it is a beautiful gift nonetheless. Each challenge is another step in the refinement of your soul. So don’t complain about it, embrace it. There is no easy path, and we are all here to toil and make real effort. Rather than do it begrudgingly, do it with enthusiasm and alacrity. Eat a bagel with lox and savor every day of life, even when it’s hard.

So the Bris tells us that life isn’t easy. The meal after the Bris tells us to celebrate the tests that life brings. Don’t kvetch about the hole, eat the bagel.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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