Monday, January 13, 2020

Widsom from the gentiles: This too shall pass - Of unknown origin but worth telling over

"There’s a story – where it comes from I don’t know, but still the story is worth saying over for itself.
Shlomo Hamelech once asked, 'Can anyone supply me a ring that whenever I’ll be too excited, too flustered, I’ll be able to look at that ring and it’ll have the segulah, the power to bring me back to calmness of mind?'" R' Avigdor Miller, Toras Avigdor, Parshas Vayishlach, The Disturbed Wicked

“This too shall pass  is an adage that has provided succor for many a person in distress.
It is a powerful reminder that life does not stand still, and that one must always anticipate
 change, hopefully for the better. Much mystery surrounds this adage. We know almost
nothing about its origin, whether in its Hebrew or non-Hebrew versions.1 Surprisingly,
the phrase “this too shall pass” occurs nowhere in Scripture, Talmud, or Midrash.
Indeed, it seems to appear nowhere in all of Jewish literature prior to the
nineteenth century.2 In that century, the phrase was attributed—apparently in
non-Jewish sources—to King Solomon. In the twentieth century, the connection to
King Solomon became part of an elaborate legend that was often told, but rarely recorded.”
Shneyr Leiman,
Tradition, 41:1, Spring 2008


This too shall pass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"This too shall pass" (Persian: این نیز بگذرد‎, romanized: īn nīz bogzarad) is a Persian adage translated and used in multiple languages. It reflects on the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition. The general sentiment is often expressed in wisdom literature throughout history and across cultures, although the specific phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets such as Rumi.
It is known in the Western world primarily due to a 19th-century retelling of Persian fable by the English poet Edward FitzGerald. It was also notably employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became the sixteenth President of the United States.
In the tenth-century Anglo-Saxon poem "Deor's Lament", each stanza of the elegy ends in the repetition of the refrain "Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg" translated variously as "That passed away; this also may" or "That was overcome, so may this be."[1] In this case the similarity with the Persian form is, of course, coincidental. The same is probably true of the following passage in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (Vol. III, Ch. 6), published in 1813. The "philosophic composure" of Mr. Bennet leads him to reply to his daughter, Elizabeth, who has counseled him not to become inconsolable after a recent family misfortune, that "You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! ...I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough."
An early English citation of "this too shall pass" in the Persian or Middle Eastern context appears in 1848:
When an Eastern sage was desired by his sultan to inscribe on a ring the sentiment which, amidst the perpetual change of human affairs, was most descriptive of their real tendency, he engraved on it the words : — "And this, too, shall pass away." It is impossible to imagine a thought more truly and universally applicable to human affairs than that expressed in these memorable words, or more descriptive of that perpetual oscillation from good to evil, and from evil to good, which from the beginning of the world has been the invariable characteristic of the annals of man, and so evidently flows from the strange mixture of noble and generous with base and selfish inclinations, which is constantly found in the children of Adam.[2]
It was also used in 1852, in a retelling of the fable entitled "Solomon's Seal" by the English poet Edward FitzGerald.[3][better source needed] In it, a sultan requests of King Solomon a sentence that would always be true in good times or bad; Solomon responds, "This too will pass away".[4] On September 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln recounted a similar story:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction![5][6]

Origin of the fable[edit]

The fable retold by FitzGerald can be traced to the first half of the 19th century, appearing in American papers by at least as early as 1839.[4] It usually involved a nameless "Eastern monarch". Its origin has been traced to the works of Persian Sufi poets, such as Rumi, Sanai and Attar of Nishapur.[4] Attar records the fable of a powerful king who asks assembled wise men to create a ring that will make him happy when he is sad. After deliberation the sages hand him a simple ring with the Persian words "This too shall pass" etched on it, which has the desired effect to make him happy when he is sad. It also, however, became a curse for whenever he is happy.[4]
This story also appears in the Jewish folklore.[7] Many versions of the story have been recorded by the Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa.[8] Jewish folklore often casts Solomon as either the king humbled by the adage, or as the one who delivers it to another.
In some versions the phrase is simplified even further, appearing as only the Hebrew letters gimel, zayin, and yodh, which begin the words "Gam zeh ya'avor" (Hebrew: גַּם זֶה יַעֲבֹר‏‎, gam zeh yaavor), "this too shall pass."

No comments:

Post a Comment