Kushner’s Book Was Not A Disappointment: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

comedy great mel brooks made a movie entitled “life stinks”. if author harold kushner made a movie, perhaps he would entitle it “life stinks, get over it.” rabbi kushner’s “overcoming life’s disappointments”, in my opinion, is superior to his #1 bestseller “why bad things happen to good people”. in “overcoming life’s disappointments”, moses’ life is used as the vehicle to take the reader through the challenge of overcoming life’s realities.

the book’s beauty is that rabbi kushner runs through and addresses many of life’s disappointments. perhaps the greatest message one can derive from the book is that you, a person struggling to make it through life, are not alone. life, at times, will stink. things will not go in the right direction. difficult life decisions must be made and their consequences will be long lasting. rabbi kushner’s re-occurring message is that when disaster strikes, we must be prepared to put the pieces and move one. he repeatedly refers to moses’ picking up of the ten commandments that he shattered when he experienced the disappointment of seeing the children of israel failing. as rabbi kushner points out, moses carried these broken pieces with him for the rest of his life.

a criticism of rabbi kushner’s employing moses is that he did not fully explore the great leader’s complex life. as a youth, moses was raw and unprincipled. while he sensed right from wrong, he was challenged by it. moses’ negative interaction with the hebrew slaves after he murdered the taskmaster emotionally devastated him. he realized -and was likely disappointed- that he lacked a natural ability to be a moral leader. he was exposed. he realized he was unprepared to be a leader.

another example of an opportunity not fully addressed as moses’ need to control. moses, at his height, was a micro manager. he drove himself to exhaustion working as a judge for the people. it was moses’ willingness to listen to his father-in-law jethro’s wisdom that allowed him to step back. in doing so, he transformed the nation. he learned the powerful lesson of delegation. to do so, he would have to accept a level of disappointment. he would have to employ others -most not as talented- to take on his role of both instructing and judging. these two challenging aspects of moses’ life would have been worthy of discussion, namely the ability to improve upon one’s failure and the ability to let go and accept less than perfection.

kusher’s 2006 book, while dated, is still an important read. the book perhaps offers a challenge to the reader. how would have rabbi kushner written this book presently as the world confronts itself with a pandemic economy, the social media explosion, and the woke-revolution? while there is the adage that there is nothing new under the sun, modern times are radically different than from the past. for example, at least once a week, a high profile suicide is reported. these reports are perhaps a sign of marked disappointment within society. rabbi kushner’s world was not beset with concerns of social media concerns of the numbers of followers, “likes”, “dislikes”, and comments. his world was not as much inundated with adult children living at their parents homes spending their time playing video games.

kushner’s book, in some way, can be looked as a cautionary tale. in post-pandemic times- a period of rapid transformation within the labor market due to technology advancements and workforce displacement- human beings’ meaning and purpose are being challenged. rabbi kushner states “something dangerously corrosive happens to a person’s soul when he no longer takes his work seriously enough to give his best.” what disappointment and what damage to the soul is occurring in a world which is literally at war with people trying to work or run their own businesses? since rabbi kushner has passed, answering these questions will be for someone else to address.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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