Don't Be Obsessed With Trash

Friday, 1 October, 2021 - 1:10 pm

How many of us here in the NOLA area have associated the sound of a garbage truck on the block with unmitigated joy and celebration? The debris left from Hurricane Ida, along with the disruption to trash pickup service, have made trash talk a rival to Covid and the weather as the most discussed topics. Now, garbage is a reality of life. We all produce it, and we all need it to be removed. However, it is not supposed to be the aspect of life that takes front and center of our consciousness. Garbage production and removal should be an area of life that just happens quietly. When it becomes a noisy focus, we know that something is not quite right.

This is true in our spiritual lives as well. As imperfect humans, we all produce some soul trash. As folks striving to heighten our relationship with G-d, we engage in trash removal. Sometimes that is a smelly job that leaves us feeling gross while we do it, but the cleanliness that follows is heavenly. As long as this process remains on the back burner of life, we are good. When garbage becomes an obsession, when we know that something is not quite right.

The primary focus of life, the topic of our spiritually targeted conversations, should be about positivity. We should be excited about light and holiness. We should be celebrating Mitzvahs and our opportunities to make the world a better place. Garbage should be relegated to the pails, the bins, the trucks that make their rounds in the predawn hours, the sewer system. These are all critical components of life, without which we are doomed to misery. But let’s keep them in their proper place, and not allow them to seep into the rest of life, leaving us wondering why life smells like New Orleans after a category 4 storm.

L’chaim to a sweet-smelling year of 5782, where garbage is back in its rightful place in the hierarchy of life!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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