‘This Too Shall Pass’
“This too shall pass” is something I remember my mother, Penny Waga, saying to my sister and me as children.
I remember so many great things about my mother, to whom I owe everything – and I remember her saying “This too shall pass” so regularly. It was a reminder that everything is temporary, and as time passes, I understand the phrase more and more.
Jewish “legend” teaches that Solomon used the phrase – he was David’s son, a king of Israel, and a prophet.
The following story on the subject was published by Ohr Sameach:
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 the Sukkot festival, 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 special 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 some added humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the day 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 special ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah.
He watched the elderly man 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 King 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 begin 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.
There are so many meanings to attach to these words – and they are a reminder to keep balance and meaning. Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa said: “Every person should have two pockets. In one pocket should be a piece of paper that reads, ‘I am but dust and ashes’ (Genesis 18:27). In the other pocket should be a note that says: ‘The world was created for me.’ (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).”
Balancing good times and bad – managing pleasure and pressure – and so many other aspects in this journey called life. As a father, a husband, an entrepreneur – and so many other labels, it is always a constant balancing act. And eventually, this too shall pass.
Ronn Torossian created the Ronn Torossian Foundation and is CEO of 5WPR . A lifelong New Yorker and author of bestselling public relations book “For Immediate Release”, Torossian is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Observer, and Wired Insights.