Silver Linings: An Explanation and an Apology

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I am an optimist. When the glass is half full (or half empty), to me, it’s like 90% full.

Upon discovering the horrific events of last week, I, like every other normal human being had a visceral reaction to the news. It hurt. It was more emotional pain than I could remember in a long time. That was the only reaction I thought possible in the moment.

But my optimism kicked in and I recalled the Mishna I quoted last week that obligates Jews to bless the bad like the good. But how? I thought. How is it possible to find the good in this tragedy. The answer, to me, was that we cannot. There is no good in a tragedy like this. But what of the Mishna? How are we to bless the bad like the good? My answer was that if we, the ones affected by this tragedy, were able to make our own blessing, make our own changes, improve ourselves and our communities, we would be blessing the bad. By not wallowing in self pity, by not allowing ourselves to be debilitated by our pain and sorrow, we could take the worst of times and use them to make better times in the future.

This is a novel explanation of the Mishna. I admit it. But I think it is appropriate under these circumstances.

I call this a silver lining.

As per the Idiom Dictionary“be hopeful because difficult times always lead to better days…”

According to this explanation of the metaphor, a silver lining (the good thing) is not innate to the cloud (the bad thing). It means that bad things can eventually lead to good things. Look at the picture above. The dark cloud has a silver lining. But from does the silver lining come? Not from the cloud. From something behind the cloud. Something external to the cloud. The sun. Eventually the cloud dissipates and the sun remains. Eventually the pain dissipates and there can be good. For most people that would entail waiting around until the good thing kicked in. Not for me. I believe it means we should proactively make good in the wake of bad.

However, some people took issue with my use of the Idiom.

They felt that silver lining meant that there was “something good” about the death of a poor innocent child. There is nothing good about that. If you understood me that way what I said was obscene and heartless.

To you, I apologize. That was never my intention. Nor was I aware that some people would interpret the idiom in that way. But I now understand that some people interpreted silver lining in that way and the usage of the silver lining idiom caused people unnecessary pain and outrage. For that, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I hope that you will all find a way to forgive me for that. I am sorry.

I hope this clarifies my position and we can all try our best to implement something positive into our lives and communities and turn the bad into a blessing.

I will be footnoting the mention of silver lining in both of the previous posts to indicate the usage of this idiom is explained in this post.

  • Azi

    All is forgiven.

  • jonathan becker

    i don’t think you should have to apologize to people who can’t read, and are so unaware of who you are as a person that they would attribute to you the sentiments for which you are apologizing (even though it should be clear to anyone and everyone that you didn’t intend the words/sentiments that were put in your mouth/heart by those blinded by their emotions to the point of lashing out even at the good guys. but i applaud your willingness to apologize ANYWAY.

    • Thank you sir. I appreciate it.

    • Anonymous

      idiot.  Nobody ever said it was intentional.  It is called being sensitive to other people, an attribute you seem to be lacking.  R’ fink did the right thing by apologizing for an UNINTENTIONAL mistake.  Generally, people do not apologize for intentional infliction of harm.  You need to remove your emotion form this and start thinking logically.

      • You’re point is equally, if not more, valid without the word “idiot”.

  • jonathan becker

    fwiw: i had something like this happen to me this past shabbat. i was speaking to someone who knows me well, for many years, about “slutwalk”, and i spoke in favor of modesty and against “slutwalk” as something that encourages immodesty. the person i was talking to made an emotionally based (ill)logical jump and accused me of defending the right of men to rape immodestly dressed women (chas v’shalom).  point: some issues (like rape, or child murder) are so tangled up with emotion they should only be approached with the most EXTREME care, if at all, and with a willingness to take your (undeserved) lumps and apologize even if you’re making perfect sense. 2nd point: learning the hard way is sometimes the only way to learn. sorry you had to deal with this, you didn’t deserve it.

    • Anonymous

      I doubt the conversation is as simple as you state it.  Based on your version, any irrational person won’t make that jump.  There were probably  emotionally charged statements that you made that triggered such a reaction (albeit an illogical reaction).  The nature of the topic is a emotional one, I doubt you spoke without any emotion and purely logical.  I do not know you and I am not saying that you are illogical or speak with your emotions, but a sensitive topic like you were discussing is always emotionally charged, on both sides, even unintentionally.

      Your are comparing apples and oranges. 

    • @2f015ce77f1e1e6d17a7ed59448a05b7:disqus It isn’t completely illogical to go from being against immodesty to being pro rape. Basically, the idea that women should be subjected to societal modesty rules is based on the idea that her actions and appearances have some sort of effect on the people around her. If that is so, then you are in a way suggesting that she is at fault if she dresses immodestly therefore she should not dress immodestly.

      @Choosetoswim:disqus  you seem to have created an entire conversation between Jonathan Becker and this other individual that never happened just so you could argue with him. Yes, the examples are different, hence apples and oranges, but the concept carries through to both examples equally.

      • Anonymous

        You missed my point.  I “created” a conversation because he left the entire conversation out.  Hence to jump and say “he made an emotionally charged (ill)logical jump”  is unfair.  I pointed it out by saying he, in all likelihood made emotionally charged statements as well.  I said no more than that.  And no going from being against immodesty is not a logical jump to pro rape.  shifting some of the blame on the woman that she enticed the rapist is not being pro rape. I cannot understand your logic, sorry.

        • @Choosetoswim:disqus   “shifting some of the blame on the woman that she enticed the rapist is not being pro rape”

          I dont know if you meant to write what you wrote there, in fact, I’m not even sure what your main point was, but what you wrote in passing was this: “shifting some of the blame on the woman that she enticed the rapist…” implying that you are open or in favor of doing this.

          That is wrong.
          however, it proves my point, that people who are against immodesty, are open to the idea that a woman is at fault for being raped. “pro rape” doesnt mean women SHOULD get raped, but rather than it isn’t 100% the fault of the victim for getting raped. that is just wrong and frankly disgusting.

          • Anonymous

            I was paraphrasing your words, maybe I should have quoted it for clarity. “then you are in a way suggesting that she is at fault if she dresses immodestly” I was referring to this line.  By no means to I agree with it.  My point is that even if you were to say she did something wrong by dressing immodestly, and thus enticed someone, does not mean you are pro rape.  The man’s reaction is solely his fault, no matter if the woman was completely exposed, he is still responsible for his actions.  That does not take away from her wrong, if you are saying immodesty is wrong. I am simply saying that it is illogical to say immodesty is wrong therefore rape is ok.  I hope I clarified.

            Also, I think you meant to write it isn’t 100% the rapists fault. Which I agree is wrong and disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    Fair ’nuff

  • Anonymous

    Thank You.  All is forgiven.

  • ppl who misunderstand the idiom are idiots.