You’ve heard the term. Most commonly we use it when talking about two people who fall in love – ‘it was basheirt!’ we say – in other words, they are truly meant for each other. But the term can be applied in a more general sense, used to mean that just about anything was meant to happen. ‘It was basheirt that I ran into him at the train station!’ It is another way of saying ‘fated’ – that there is some guiding force, and that force is, at least at times, directing our lives. As people so often say, things happen for a reason. And there is something comforting about that idea.

But here is another word: serendipity. Chance. Randomness. The molecules of the universe are flying around and sometimes just happen to bang into each other, and then interesting, unexpected things can happen. You’ve been happily married to one person, but chances are you could have married someone else and also been happy. You might just as easily have run into a different person at the train station, and your life might have been different, but still filled with goodness. Our fates are not being directed or predetermined. We make choices, sometimes we turn left, sometimes right, and in the end we often arrive at our destination. But there is no master plan. We are all just doing our best, muddling through.

Maybe life is actually a little of both. By and large I don’t buy in to the master plan idea. I don’t think everything happens for a reason, and in my experience there is a great deal of serendipity in the game of life. But there are moments when the pieces just seem to come together in exactly the right way. The odds of being in just that place at just that time to meet just that person are so infinitesimal, and yet it happens, and in that moment worlds can be created. After all, what are the mathematical chances for life to come into existence on this mysterious and marvelous planet of ours? As Damon Runyon wrote, the odds of life are 6 to 5 against.

A closing vignette. Last night, dreams weaving in and out of my mind, tossing and turning, noises in the night, thoughts flying through my head. But also the quiet of night, the stillness of the house, the gentle arrival of dawn. Then the alarm. I recognized the song instantly. Touch of Grey, the Grateful Dead’s only top ten hit in their long, 50 year career. We will get by, we will survive. Nice way for an old Deadhead to wake up. Obviously, it was basheirt.

Author: Steve Schwartz

Husband, father of three, Deadhead, and rabbi. I am now in my 22nd year of serving a large congregation in the Baltimore area.

One thought

  1. Game of life (your words); timing is everything (mine). Last night, I sat waiting for my watch battery to be replaced; at the moment I started to read my rabbi, a lovely nun sat beside me & smiled…. For many years, I have wandered around in my mostly nun-like wardrobe, imagine how rarely I ever see one of the sisters….basheirt. L

    Sent from my iPhone


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