Beshert | All the Light We Cannot See

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Tough week beshert photo

It’s been a tough week, generally speaking, to present the idea of beshert as a positive “meant-to-be” experience. Snow. Ice. Massive power outages. Texas freezing in the dark. Delayed COVID-19 vaccinations in weather-slammed parts of the country. Counterfeit N95 masks. 

So I made a list of things that seem bad to me, personally, but that suggest they might herald beshert upsides. Here it is:

1) Relationships gone south. I actually did once date someone who moved to Mexico. These invariably turned out to be for the best though I got sick of hearing, “You dodged a bullet.” It must be beshert to have time off from the shooting range.

2) Loss of a job I loved. A casualty of the pandemic—this broke my heart. I cried when I received my 1099 for the paltry weeks I worked in 2020 before lockdown. I am clearly meant to owe way less in taxes than last year.

3) Cancelled travel. But, of course, nobody could go anywhere. I should be grateful that I could have gone any other year. Who knew that being more like a third-world country would become a first-world problem? Self-reflection has steered me away, I think, from a sense of entitlement. It is beshert that my parents didn’t name me Karen.

4) The moth infestation. I don’t know how this happened. I saw a moth in my bedroom last summer after I had packed my winter wool away in lavender and other natural aromatics. I consoled the little tineola bisselliella by pointing out that it had dodged a cedar bullet. I didn’t realize his relations were busy colonizing the living room. Now I have a new rug there. It is beshert that I discovered Wayfair.

5) Jewish identity issues. This has happened at least twice now. What does it mean when you knock over glasses and they don’t break? I am questioning my faith. At the same time, I have a renewed sense of confidence when I do the dishes.

6) I am catless. It has been strangely sad not to have an animal this past year. They are essential for my inner peace if they have been invited inside. There have been excellent reasons to wait to acquire a fur baby until I have more freedom of movement. I keep getting offers. Mystical and mystifying online algorithms keep noodging me. Emails and pop-up ads constantly fly my way, like homing pigeons. In the end, though, I just don’t feel it’s beshert for me to adopt a rescue goat.

What have we gained from recent events to jumpstart our faith that beshert will again favor us spontaneously, effortlessly, intuitively? Clothes moths must ask these questions, too: when will I be gifted with cashmere? That is the nature of beshert. You never know where or when it will land.

Pam Janis is Moment Magazine‘s Beshert editor. She also writes speeches and ghostwrites books. She lives in Washington, DC. Follow her on Twitter @pamjanis3.

Top photo: Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas). Not the species that ate the author’s rug but way prettier than the one that did. Courtesy of Bernard Spragg on Flickr

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