Jewish Proverb

Lucas A. Davidson
3 min readNov 30, 2023

Daily Meditation 642–11/30/2023

There’s an old, supposedly Jewish proverb I’m fond of. It goes along the lines of this:

“Ask not for a lighter burden, but rather ask for wider shoulders.”

There’s a good bite of truth to it. Life loves to throw all manner of horrors our way. The cheating spouse. The death of loved ones. Cancer or illness. Car accidents. Loss of career. And so often as we proceed through these tragedies, we tend to adopt a misattitude of “Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this?” as if we deserve anything at all!

We are taking the first side of the quote. We are requesting the lighter burden. If you’re Christian, perhaps you beg of God “Why have you done this to me? Please remove this bad spot!” If you’re not, then maybe instead you cry out “What did I do wrong, karma?!” and you look back over your past for any sign of possible reason…

So often we wish for these pains to be removed from our present. Perhaps, instead, as the proverb states, we could instead stand to improve the width of our proverbial shoulders…

When crushed by cheating spouses, loss of jobs, or cancer, instead of screaming “Woe is me!” we can instead stop and think, “What can I stand to learn, here?” or “What here can make me stronger and more capable? Can I become more competent from this?” And perhaps we do some wallowing for a day or two — grief, after all, is normal! — but we cannot allow illness nor betrayal to tar and feather us for very long. We must endure. We will persevere.

When you become sick, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, reflect. How have I been eating, lately? How’s my hygiene been — did I fail to wash up? And what about my physical fitness? Am I moving enough?
You ask yourself what you can do better instead of lamenting your fragility.

Know that out of illness, your body will become stronger than it was.

When you’ve been cheated on, reflect. Did you push them away? Were they just a plain Narcissist and you enabled them? How could you have protected yourself better? Were others advising you about them but you failed to listen?

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Lucas A. Davidson

Daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from the forthcoming book on the topic. Comments or jobs: lucas@multistatewide.com