There are several different versions of the parable of King Salomon’s ring, but this the one I like the most. This is the version as told by David Franko from Turkey, written down by Heda Jason.
One day King Solomon decided to teach humility to Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, one of his ministers. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot holiday which gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, Your Majesty, ” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has the magic powers, ” answered the king. “If a happy man wears it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man wears it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility.
Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he took a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes a happy man forget his joy and a sad man forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the old merchant take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it.
When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity.
“Well, my friend, ” said the King Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, Your Majesty!”
As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “gam zeh ya’avor”—-this too shall pass. At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.”
When things are getting rough, it can be hard to see the light on the other end of the tunnel and I find it very comforting to remember that “this too shall pass”. It doesn’t make things easier or go by sooner, but it does give hope. I think hope is one of the most important things we humans need. If there’s no hope, then, what is there to live for?
When you’re happy you wish that it will last forever. You don’t want to think of the fact that this will pass. At least that was the first thing I thought. But I actually came to appreciate it for my happy moments as well.
Because, aren’t we often taking happy moments for granted? How often do we not take the time to really enjoy because we’re preoccupied with all those other, often trivial, things? How often are we missing out on the beautiful moments life offers us because we got used to it? Until the moment it’s no longer there and you realize you should have enjoyed it more.
By remembering “this too shall pass”, I remember that I need to take time to live in the moment. That I need to suck in all of the love, happiness and joy I possibly can. Even if it’s closing my eyes and enjoy the sun for just a second. It’s important, because these moments too shall pass and we may need the memories of these happy moments to get us through more challenging times.