Last week I wrote that the most important word in a long lasting marriage and any other relationship is care (actually there are two words – mutual care). Is there a way to learn such an important feature of a human’s well-being, which I suspect is not taught in schools? To find an answer, I decided to check my favorite book – the Torah. The Torah is divided into five books. The last one is called Deuteronomy, (which comes from Greek and means “Second Law”) summarizes the events that the former Hebrew slaves experienced in the preceding forty years living in the desert and receiving God’s laws and commandments through their leader Moses. It was not an easy journey and before passing on at the age of 120, Moses started the new book with a summary of their journey and events. It begins with a complaint – “How can I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens, and your quarrels? Provide for yourself distinguished men who are wise, discerning and well-known to your tribes and I shall appoint them as your heads (Deuteronomy 1:13)”. I looked up the definition of “discerning”, and the dictionary gave number of meanings. One of them was, “having good judgement”. But when I checked the translation of the Hebrew original word “navon”, one of the meanings was “care”. Now it started to make sense. The leader had to be not only a wise person (hakham), but also had to be able to care about his tribe. The leaders had to learn what Moses was teaching them and then use this knowledge to teach and to judge their brethren. But it was like having a job. In our times, we have many learned people who are experts in their fields, but they are 9 to 5 people. Do they really care about the well-being of their colleagues, about the company they are working for, or their city, state, country? Many loudly express their political preferences, but what are they doing to demonstrate that they really care? You start with small measures, notice what can be done, change, improve, contribute and start to make a difference, because you care. Turns out, it is easier to advise, and not so easy to execute. I found an interesting opinion on this subject in the book titled, “Talks on the Parasha” by Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinzaltz (Parasha is a weekly portion of the Torah, “Time” Magazine called Rabbi Steinzaltz “once-in-a-millennium scholar”).
In the book rabbi Steinzaltz points out that Moses, who really cared about people whom he led and taught, and he felt lonely, since other leaders were not able to care about their community on his level.
When I ask myself how I can learn to care more about others, the comparison comes with how to learn to be a better photographer. You can have the best camera, to know how it works and takes photos, but if you want to get great images you need to learn how to see, what to include and what not to exclude in your composition, how light affects the final results, and practice, take more images, make errors and when you get frustrated, relax and practice more, and to constantly learn. After all, either, you practice how to photograph or to take care of others, and it is someone else who will appreciate the results. But the decision of what to do has to be yours, since you are the person who cares.
P.S. For me, learning comes from reading books, and I am not alone. I often encounter readers in different places, to which these four images attest. In my photo-story book “42 Encounters in San Francisco,” which is available on Amazon.com, you will find many more whimsical images and interesting stories and, perhaps will learn how to care.
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