It’s always important to remind ourselves to be thankful for those things we take for granted—like having electricity. As many of you know firsthand, and many others have undoubtedly heard, we Torontonians are slowly recovering from an ice storm that began this past Shabbat. Of course, some are luckier than others. Our home is still amongst the 90,000 Toronto households (down from over 300,000) who eagerly await the return of power and heat to our homes. I won’t bore you with the details of how we are coping (B”H, all is well), but this inconvenience has provided some food (even if cold) for thought. 

The way our lives are so incredibly tied to technology—even on Shabbat—is eye-opening. We have gotten a taste of the 18th century. While one cannot miss that which one never knew existed, it reminds us how lucky we are to have the conveniences of modern life. Long cold nights, made a touch brighter and warmer with candles (and flashlights—okay, a little cheating) and our seldom-used (maybe never-used would be more accurate) fireplace. It’s been a great opportunity to catch up on some sleep, and even provided some time for family bonding.

As I listened to the news while driving in the car today, the headline was that all that thousands want for Christmas is to have their power restored. And we should feel empathy for our Christian neighbours—one of whom has been kind enough to buy my chametz in recent years—who have had such a damper put on their most important day of the year. (See this beautiful story by Rabbi Berel Wein here.)

That comment got me thinking. How wonderful it would be if people were satisfied just to have some heat, a working fridge, and light in their home (and, shall I add, a connection to the internet). Yet I could not help thinking of the insightful and almost tragic words of our Sages, “Whoever has one hundred wants two hundred”.  Human nature is to never quite be satisfied with what one has. If only we could have that, we would be happy…until we get that, and then seek happiness on the next plateau, and on and on it goes. While in a certain sense, this is the way it must be—the desire for more and more has led to so much innovation and benefit for all—how fortunate are those who embody the beautiful and so-true words of our Sages: “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot”.

Shared adversity often brings out the best in us. As our mayor noted today—yes, that mayor, Mr. Rob Ford, the one who has done more than any other Canadian to put Toronto on the international stage—it has been beautiful to see Torontonians pull together, checking to see that their (elderly) neighbours are fine, those with power inviting those without power to their homes, and having a most positive attitude, something that will always make life that much more fulfilling.

Ma rabu ma’asecha Hashem. The beauty of barren trees covered in ice, sparkling as they refract the light, is a sight to be seen. We revel in the quiet beauty of nature (so much nicer than a fallen hydro wire—three of which still adorn our street). One can see beauty everywhere; one just has to know how to look.

Yes, I eagerly await the return of power to our home. But going a few days without it can offer much light.