Monday, December 17, 2007

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is not a modern virtue. The world we live in now races along at breakneck speed and patience is seen as equating to "being too slow." Modern mankind does not take well to delay, certainly not delayed gratification. We want everything, and we want it here yesterday. We refuse to believe that we cannot make things happen when we want them to happen. We are always in a hurry to get somewhere, the faster the better.

I've been thinking about why we so dislike having to be patient. One reason may be because patience teaches humility, and modern mankind is so not the humble kind. Having to wait for anything means that we are not the ones running the show. There is a loss of control in patience that doesn't sit well with some people.

In older times, when more people were connected to growing things and to the seasons, patience was a given. You can't put a seed in the ground and harvest a crop an hour later. You need to wait for growth, for the season to progress. Our modern technology has allowed us to compress the time needed for certain tasks, making them seem instantaneous. But there are some things which will not bend to man's desire no matter how hard he tries.

Raising children is one of those things. Children, like plants, grow slowly. They mature according to the seasons. Try and hurry the process and you stunt the plant's full potential. Artificially manipulate the "seasons" a child has to go through and you produce an "incomplete" person.

Getting married is another one of those things. Once someone has decided to be "in the parsha" they want results, and they want them now. There is the mistaken idea that deciding that something will happen will automatically cause that something to come into existence. And people, with their penchant for comparison and competition, look at others. "They got what they wanted right out of the starting gate," they think. "It's coming to me to." Such people are poor "farmers." Farmers know that not every crop, not every plant, not every tree grows at the same rate nor matures at the same time. Each growing thing has its own required schedule to come to completion.

If you try to hurry the process of growing you get poor results. In shidduchim it can be the same. Many of the problems seen in marriages made today come about because people have no patience. They couldn't wait to enter into the shidduch parsha, so maybe they entered it too early--they weren't ready yet. They don't want to be in that parsha long and so they race through and jump into marriage--maybe they weren't ready yet. They find the adjustment to marriage somewhat difficult and they abandon ship at the first sign of problems. They have no patience to work things through.

Those who do not get married immediately after they enter the parsha often become disgusted and depressed and angry. "I'm waiting too long!" they yell. And how long is the season for finding the right spouse? Those who have the patience to go through the process ordained for them get their "fairy tale" endings.

"And just what am I supposed to do while I'm being so patient?" they sometimes wail. Live. Have a life. Develop yourself. Fulfill your potential. And wait. Wait patiently. Milton's line was "They also serve who only stand and wait." He was not wrong. He was talking about patience. The Master Grower, HaShem Yisborach, has a timetable that He has set. Are we really so full of gaivoh that we presume to overset His schedule?

My mother has a yiddish saying which translated is "Hashem give me patience, only give it to me right now!" The irony is not lost on me. I hope it is not lost on you either.


Anonymous said...


Here is a link to a good article -

Anonymous said...

Will ya hurry up and get to the point?