October 8, 2009

A Longish One But Bear With Me.....

I wanted to find the origin of the saying..."This too shall pass" which is commonly engraved on silver rings and comes from Jewish wisdom folktale.

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.

Heda Jason recorded this version told by David Franko from Turkey: via Wikipedia


Mrs L. said...

MrsL here of the 43rdYear writing to say I’m MORTIFIED that I have breached blog and twitter etiquette and not properly thanked you for your support which (while not acknowledged properly) is MUCH appreciated!!! I’m new at this and quite frankly have been operating in the fantasy-zone of my head that if I’m quiet like a little mouse no one will notice that I’m blogging when I should be spending 24/7 thinking about my day job. And also I'm slowly getting over my Luddite ways and learning about things like replying direct vs retweeting etc. So please bear with me and thank you for this post - I love this story. L.

one of 365 said...

As a Jewish girl who had a Bat Mitzvah, I'm ashamed to say I have never heard that tale and am so glad that I did. I think it has a different meaning for me because I think Solomon was a happy man reading the ring, therefore it made him sad (realizing that his life was just a speck of time and it would "pass."). For me, it gives me hope that maybe the hardships in my life will pass. That there is hope for change. That even though my twenties have been really rugged, maybe they will just become a fleeting memory and I can look back on them and shudder but enjoy my future and have a wonderful life ahead of me. Thank you so much for that tale. Really fascinating and inspiring. X--one of 365