The importance of continuity

The importance of continuity

It is not a secret that, given the huge amount of information people are constantly receiving, and also given the latest scientific findings on how things work in the world, the gap between what people used to ignore and its plausible explanation has become narrower than ever before. Nevertheless, aside from understanding the physical and chemical laws that govern the world, human beings, as Judaism has taught over the centuries, cannot simply ignore the spiritual laws the world embodies. In fact, Jewish teachings, the set of practices and beliefs that have helped Jews survive even through the darkest of times, are rather related to developing and nurturing better community practices as Yosef Meystel has already pointed out.

Although it might often go unnoticed, there are times where these spiritual laws and the physical, or rather the terrestrial, laws go in parallel with one another. And there are plenty of examples. For instance, relationships, marriages, businesses and commercial activities, all of them have something in common, something that is unavoidable: they cannot stay the same, they either get better or get worse. The clearest example is found using a business as an example. Every time people start a business, they do it in hopes of it growing and becoming more profitable. It is highly unlikely that someone would be actually willing to put the effort into establishing a business and wishing that, once is has become profitable and stable, it will stay the same. Change is ineludible. The same happens with marriages and relationships: these do not stay the same; no one can assert that they want things to stay the same once they perceive that they are good: doing so would put the marriage or the relationship in a rather static condition that ultimately would lead them towards an undesired outcome. In the real world, things do not work like this, they are always either improving or deteriorating, like plants: plants grow up to certain point and then they stop flourishing, which is normal, and their petals start falling off.

In order to face change, and avoid falling into the trap of looking for things to fall into a static condition, Jews have seized the monumental quantities and vital information embodied within their beliefs and heritage that positively impact their lives. Throughout the books of Moses, and the scriptures, it is easy to see how they emphasize the importance of embracing continuity, meaning that in spite the fact that things are mostly based on something solid, in order for them to survive and last, that continuity must be fostered and improved as time passes. And this sense of continuity is what has been passed on from generation to generation, it can be found in the Jewish beliefs, and it has been what they have used for establishing their lives, their businesses, their relationships. Generational continuity, at least in its semantic form, is a way of extracting what has been useful in the past, and what has been used by prior generations for further and future application: facing change, in business aiming at getting things better, nurturing relationships, fostering entrepreneurial dynamics, helping others within the community, etc. are just some of the examples that embody the spiritual laws of Judaism and the sense of continuity found in the scriptures.

Image courtesy of Ben Faulding at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Ben Faulding at Flickr.com

Nonetheless, change comes in different magnitudes and shapes. Change does not only suggest fixing what has been proving not to work properly, which, of course, is something that is entailed within its semantic interpretation; however, change also means embracing aspects like death or departure or bankruptcy, or a loosing a job, just to mention some examples. There are some aspects that can be partially solved by having in mind options for facing the worst-case scenario like loosing a job: how can people continue their careers had they lost their job. Or how can people continue their businesses if they had to close. Being aware of the options comes from embracing continuity and the will to persist. However, it is important to bear in mind that there is practically nothing that could be done in order to prevent and be ready for death, whether a loved one or one’s own. Accepting that all must come to an end, in this case life, is the first connotation related to continuity that is to be addressed. Either after a break-up, or the passing of a loved one, life goes on, and is has been depicted by the Jews throughout history after being confined in ghettos and after being the focus on countless and untenable attacks. Understanding that the end is not a consequence of someone’s passing or departure is what enables people to face what is yet to come: how to continue while being the same person and behaving towards people with the same respect.