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Simplicity

Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.  Rashi

 These are the words of Rashi, a medieval French scholar who lived from 1040 to 1105 CE. His real name was Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak and he is still studied for his profound and detailed analyses of the Bible and its commentaries. Because he was renowned and revered for his meticulous attention to detail in his studies, his work has had profound significance for me.

This quote has been often repeated and analyzed. My interpretation is that Rashi entreats us to uncomplicate our life events by understanding information within all formats exactly as it appears. Ironically, Rashi’s most brilliant process in writing commentaries was to explain religious texts phrase by phrase, rather than paraphrasing or omitting part of the text. It seems that his specificity is in adherence to simplicity.

In other words, accept words and actions exactly as they are transmitted and avoid secondary interpretations or hidden meanings. Here is an example of how that works:

You tell me that I should write a book. Receiving this with simplicity means completely and exclusively that you think I should write a book. The reasons why you have this belief may or may not be germane to one or both of us. But here is what it doesn’t mean:

Give up writing poetry.

Stop doing client work.

You’re wasting your time with blogs or other short works.

Many people will (or will not) read your book.

You may want to ask someone to help.

See how wonderful this is?

You suggest that I visit Portugal, try Korean cooking or look into yoga classes, entirely because you think that I would enjoy or benefit from those adventures. Secondary meanings are entirely gone.

The process can be extrapolated throughout our lives. Rather than passing judgment on events in your past or someone else’s, simply accept that they took place. And if, God forbid, you are to suffer from a horrible disease, accept that with the same simplicity. Wondering why you were the one to be stricken with this disease is unnecessary – simply take action to defeat it and survive. Shalom.

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