King Solomon had many servants but one servant, the captain of the Palace Guard, was his favorite and he was teased by the other servants. So the King decided that he would humble his favorite and the others wouldn’t tease him. So the king summoned his favorite along with the others and gave all of them an impossible mission to fulfill figuring that they all would fail equally and his favorite would no longer be teased.
“I have heard rumors of a fabulous ring, ” said the king. “It has a special power. When a sad person gazes upon it, they become happy. But when a happy person gazes upon it, they become sad. So find this ring and bring it to me.”
The Favorite set out in search of the ring. He traveled from town to town, inquiring about its whereabouts. But no one had ever heard of such a ring. He was about to give up when he spotted a junk shop, whose proprietor was sitting out front. He approached the man and described the object of his search. “A ring that cheers the sad and saddens the cheerful?” said the junk dealer. “Come inside.”
They entered the shop. From a box full of baubles the junk dealer took a plain, silver ring. He engraved some words on it and gave it to the Favorite. He read the inscription, nodded wisely, and headed back to the palace.
Solomon summoned all the servants that had taken on this mission The first came up empty handed, the second brought a ring made out of gems. When Solon summoned his Favorite , he was expecting an unsuccessful – and humbled – Favorite. So when the Favorite strode in and handed him the ring, the King was taken aback. Inspecting it, he read the inscription – and let out a melancholy sigh.
King Solomon removed his costly rings and slipped on the ring from the junk shop instead saying “It was I who needed a lesson in humility. This ring has reminded me that wealth and power are fleeting things.” For the inscription on the ring read “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” At that moment, Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power which he thought would take him beyond the bounds of mortality, were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust. It was the humble merchant who knew that nothing is permanent.
That thought – “THIS TOO SHALL PASS” interrupts us in the midst of the life we are living to tell us that nothing lasts forever, neither joy nor sorrow. In tough situations these words provide a glimmer of comfort.
Someone receives a terrible diagnosis; someone is going through a breakup. Deep down we all know that pain will subside and the worst will one day be behind us. It might not be soon. It might be after 20 weeks of chemo. a terribly court battle, or the worst possible outcome, but the severe pain of that will also pass with time.
Ellie Weisel, once a prisoner of the concentration camps, reminds us of that. “It’s not the pursuit of happiness; it’s the pursuit of meaning.” It’s up to us to make the moments of our lives count, because good or bad, happy or sad, they won’t last.”
Ellie Weisel was right. Happiness doesn’t last. Neither does sorrow. But meaning does. It’s found in the blessings we find in all the times of our life if we notice them. But remember King Solomon, who aimed to teach a humbling lesson, and ultimately learned for himself from a lowly merchant that “All his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.
Let THIS TOO SHALL PASS jolt us from our complacency, and enrich our lives.
Don’t waste a moment! Be thankful for your miracles, find courage in your sorrow, and make your moments count towards the world you desire. @TheRunningRabbi (Click to Tweet!)
Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can follow him on Facebook.
Image courtesy of Tyler Nix.