A few weeks ago, my friend accidentally broke my glasses. Of course it wasn’t intentional, and she felt awful about it. Nevertheless, one moment I had functional glasses to wear; the next moment, thanks to a perfectly positioned (and delicate) impact, I was left with a broken pair that I affectionately called a monocle.
Unfortunately, no amount of tape or superglue was going to change this. As much as I may not want to admit it, I should be grateful that my glasses were broken because it forced me to get a new prescription and a new pair of glasses — I had not done either of these things in an incredibly long time. Even so, due to scheduling issues I still had to wear the broken pair for about a month (providing all sorts of fodder for humor for anyone who noticed).
Then came an exciting day. After seven years of wearing the same prescription and one month of a barely functional “monocle,” I put on a brand new pair of glasses with a brand new prescription.
Not only could I see again, but I saw so much more crisply than I could recall in recent memory. Not just that, but colors were so much deeper and richer than I remember. I looked up at the sky and the blurry blue was a beautiful clear painting.
I started to laugh because I couldn’t believe the contrast that existed between one pair of glasses and another. I couldn’t believe that I was unaware that I was walking around with impaired vision for so long. How did this happen? Why did I do that to myself? Why was I okay with walking around in a physical — and, I guess, a metaphorical — haze?
The world was so much more beautiful than I remembered.
The world is so much more beautiful than we can imagine.
To paraphrase our prayer book, “How often do we walk sightless among miracles?” More often than not, I think we all do. To a large extent, this is out of necessity. It can be easy to be paralyzed by the greatness and grandeur that surrounds us.
So, how do we go about our lives with a greater sense of awe and respect for the world and communities that we exist within?
At its core, this is one of the main tenets of Judaism: living with a sense of profound awe and gratitude for our world. The study of Torah, acts of love and kindness, and engaging in the work of tikkun olam (repairing the world), help us to surround ourselves in this world of beauty and remind us that we can and must work in partnership with G-d to perpetuate it.
Who knew that my friend, accidentaly breaking my glasses, would help remind me of this?
By Cantor Jason Kaufman
Jason Kaufman is the cantor at Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia. He is a member of the American Conference of Cantors. A native of Monsey, New York, Kaufman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from State University of New York, University at Fredonia, where he majored in voice and minored in Jewish Studies and was President of the SUNY Fredonia Hillel.