Friday, July 31, 2009


The title of this posting appears contradictory; if one is grateful, it is not necessary to kvetch-translation of Yiddish-complain. If one kvetches, obviously one is not feeling very grateful.
How do we reconcile the two?
I propose that the ability to kvetch- to complain, to vent our unhappiness and protest what we perceive is unfair in our lives is a healthy outlet which could lead to an awareness of gratitude for what is. Often kvetching is like a cleansing of our feelings and thoughts which block the flow of positive energy in the world and inhibit our ability to connect to that for which we can be grateful. There are times we have to get the negativity off our chests. To paraphrase the Bible-“There is no man on earth who does not kvetch or at least have the desire to do so.” It is so natural to complain, entirely human. Because of the ease by which we can complain the challenge of seeing the world gratefully becomes even greater and more daunting. In fact, one can argue that to transcend our proclivity for kvetching is in some way a spiritually heroic act; after all, whenever we resist or overcome natural obstacles or hurdles in our lives, we arrive at special moments of personal achievement that can be regarded as significant steps of human spiritual advancement.
Tisha B’Av, the fast day of mourning, sadness, protest and anger was experienced only yesterday. This day hearkens back to experiences of kvetching . According to the Rabbis, when the spies and Israel were gripped by fear and negativity and complained bitterly to God that the Land of Israel was beyond their grasp and they would all perish in the wilderness, it was the Ninth of Av.
Thus, kvetching can go too far, and create the static that interferes with the clear communication of life’s blessings and goodness.
Today we turn toward the Fifteenth of Av-Tu B’Av; just 6 days after commemorating destruction and tragedy we are bidden to let go of our kvetching, no matter how legitimate, and reach out to the experience of “dancing in the vineyards,” a metaphor for the sweetness and joy of life’s many gifts.
May we find the strength to make our way from the kvetching in the desolation of our tragic history to rediscover the “grapes of gratitude” in the vineyards of tomorrow’s promise
Shabbat Shalom-May this Shabbat "Nachamu" comfort us all.

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