Prodigious twelfth century scholar Ibn Ezra produced incredible Torah insights that still provide illumination hundreds of years after his death. Yet, there is reason to believe that Ibn Ezra was an unhappy man. He once wrote, “If I sold shrouds no one would die. And if I sold lamps the sun would shine by night.” These are not words of a man who saw himself as fortunate or successful; these are the words of someone who thought himself an umglick. An umglick (Yiddish) is someone who is severely handicapped by misfortune. They are unlucky.
The first person who saw himself as unlucky in the Torah was Cain. After he murdered his brother, Cain complained, “Am I destined to be nothing more than a vagrant and wanderer??” He cried after God expelled him. Cain thereafter saw himself as an umglick. Life soured. There was no point in finding the “silver lining” of life, for there was none.
If we have ever experienced those dark nights of life we remember that we had a choice to either continue to wander aimlessly in the darkness, bemoaning our misfortune, or seek light.
Many years ago, I heard a story about a café on a long Texas interstate highway. Truckers liked to visit the eatery and would often park on the shoulders of the highway and walk to it. Shortly afterward the highway department put up signs, “Emergency Parking Only” to discourage the trucks from parking on the side of the road. The café then put up new signage, calling itself “Emergency Café.”
How we feel is a choice. And, of course, how we feel strongly influences how we behave toward others, and see ourselves. A good friend of mine had a cubicle office in a large room crammed with lots of other cubicles. There were no windows, fresh air, or natural light. Artificial walls and long florescent light bulbs were the only disturbances in the white room. One day, he brought in a poster of a glorious sunset and put it up on his moveable wall. The next day he brought in a window frame with blinds attached and placed it over the poster. Not only could he mentally transport himself into the picture but he mused, “Sometimes, I would have to shut the blinds because the sun was too strong!”
Torah is about life. It is about how we interact and function in a world that is about all of us. Not just us. Yet, if we continually walk in a world of darkness and anxiety, the joys of life drain and we may find ourselves an umglick. It is hard to be mindful of others when our outlook is bleak. There is no redemption in such a world. Light cannot pierce self-imposed blankness.
An old legend tells of the wise King Solomon who understood the danger of wallowing in self-pity. Solomon knew well that staying there would diminish his abilities and sap his joy. King Solomon commissioned a jeweler to make a ring that would jolt him out of the thick clouds of despair. The jeweler brought him a ring bearing the words, “This too shall pass.” They always do.
Rabbi Jonathan Case
Yes, it is possible to keep kosher in Columbia! Many of our congregants do so, and it gets easier every year. This page offers some resources. We welcome your suggestions for making this page more complete. If you have comments or additions, please feel free to contact the office at (803) 782-2500.
Beth Shalom Synagogue does not endorse or oversee any of the businesses listed on this page. Each person is responsible to ensure that a particular establishment or product meets his or her standards of kashrut.
All our local supermarkets carry a large variety of products produced under kosher supervision. This often includes store brands; check the labels and you may be surprised! Here’s a small selection of kosher products available in the Columbia area:
- Trader Joe’s on Forest Drive recently opened. They carry fresh kosher meats, cheeses, whole foods, and much more!
- Publix Market on Forest drive carries a variety of kosher products. They have a frozen kosher section including frozen kosher poultry and many prepared items in addition to a dedicated portion of an aisle for kosher products.
- Piggly Wiggly also has a kosher food section along with a frozen kosher area too. Piggly Wiggly has a good selection of Passover products and kosher cheeses.
- Kroger carries Best’s products (meat).
- Sam’s Club has kosher frozen fish along with other items. Also, Wal-Mart carries some kosher foods.
- Morganelli’s Party Store has a few varied kosher wines in their store on Forest drive.
The synagogue office maintains a list of local kosher caterers. Please call if you are interested, or to inquire about periodic kosher meat deliveries.