Thursday, January 21, 2021 -
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A life of contradictions

I have never seen so much pain, nor had so much gratitude.

I have never experienced so much quiet, yet been so aware of the news.

I have never had so much kindness from neighbors, nor needed it.

Never seen so many losses — nor so many heroes.

I never experienced such unavailability of stuff — nor its irrelevance.

I never had more time to worry, yet found it less productive.

Never been so certain of what is happening around me, yet so uncertain about the future.

I have never been more in denial about death, yet edited so many obituaries.

Never enjoyed Torah study so much, yet paid so many shiva calls.

I have never witnessed such helplessnes in political leaders, yet so acknowledged their importance.

I have never esteemed the medical profession so much, yet seen it so flummoxed.

I have never yearned for a vaccine, yet been so skeptical of what it might accomplish.

I always thought Nazi “ethics” reached rock bottom, yet am now horrified by new ethical dilemmas.

I always wished for Israel to drop out of the headlines, yet am horrified by its replalcement.

I never wanted black humor more than now, yet find it distasteful when I hear it.

I never sought philosophical answers so intensely, yet deem the ones coming my way so superficial.

I never wanted to visit my grandchildren so badly, yet so enjoyed being out of airports.

I never expected to see empty grocery shelves, yet value the reminder not to take anything for granted.

I am more efficient than ever when I work at home, yet miss the bustle of a full staff at the office.

I really want to go back to shul, but may not do so.

I really want society to open up, yet fear it.

I always wanted to be an “essential worker,” yet now that I am, I wish I weren’t.

I always wanted the grass clear of weeds, yet now that I have time to do it, Iwish I didn’t.

I don’t like running around for this and that, but I miss it.

I no longer have to go to four graduations, but wish Idid.

I have never driven with less traffic, yet wish it were back.

Never relished solitude, yet now find it calming.

Never needed a haircut more; yet, who’s looking?

Never heard of so much prayer — nor the need for it.

I never secured vintage silver dollars from a bank teller, yet would relish an in-bank exchange in lowly $1 bills.

I never expected to see such a heavy blow fall on Iran, yet also continue to fear it.

I never welcomed the morning newspapers so much, yet liked what I read so little.

I never listened to news on the radio so much, yet find it so predictable.

I never heard so many people say, I’m fine! while they can inflict fatal harm.

I have never used so much soap, yet wonder whether I am clean enough.

I never heard of professional sports playing to empty stadiums, yet still entertaining average salaries in the multi-millions.

I have never seen so much diet-breaking — nor such a good excuse.

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg may be reached at

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