A few holiday thoughts…

December 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Friends of Rare & Early Newspapers,

While the holiday season is a time of celebration and joy for most, it is also a time of sadness and depression for others – as they reflect on the loss of loved ones, their own difficult circumstances, and/or the troubles of friends and relatives.   A few years ago, on the heals of the “Great Fall” of 2008, we posted a few thoughts on life.  As we glide, saunter, and/or stumble (for some) through the holiday season, please enjoy reflections on this past post:

“This too shall pass” (Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎, gam zeh yaavor) is a phrase occurring in a Jewish wisdom folktale involving King Solomon. The phrase is commonly engraved on silver rings.

Many versions of the folktale have been recorded by the Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa. Heda Jason recorded this version told by David Franko from Turkey:

“One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” — “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.”

The phrase “This too shall pass” and the associated ring story were made popular by Abraham Lincoln in his ‘Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin’ on September 30, 1859.

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

As we look back on the previous 2+ years, we see much has occurred since this posting.  While we’ve lost loved ones, lost faithful collector friends, and observed many succumb to the realities of the economy, we’ve also enjoyed the strength that comes from weathering shared troubles, the joy of meeting new friends, and the quiet confidence that comes from seeing God’s hand in action in an endless number of circumstances.  It is times of difficulty which encourage us to value the important things in life and to grasp the reality of “This Too Shall Pass” as we endeavor to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy.  Please know that YOU, our dear friends, are such treasures.  Thank you for your ongoing friendships.

Merry Christmas (and Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish family),

Your Friends at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

(Guy, Tim, Doreen, Brian, Mike, Gerry, Hannah, Sarah, Rebekah, Joshua…)

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“…desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” Hebrews 13:18b