The conductor stretches his arms

and bends

to life’s bittersweet rhythm.

Ears straining at syncopated silence;

eyes fathoming among sheets of music

spaces

whose shadows are notes.

Now–

having breathed more

into the muted score–

his time to turn and bow.

And the baton,

passed and grasped through seas and land,

keeps beat in another tender hand.

 

Rabbi Tarfon used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.

– Pirke Avot 2:16

It is not your duty to finish the work [therefore there’s no place for wanting to give up], but neither are you at liberty to neglect it [and even if you were to feel despair, and as a result not feel any vitality and happiness in your work, you are still not allowed to forsake your duties; but rather continue onward by accepting the yoke (of Heaven)].

– from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Parashat Masai 1981 – as heard from those in attendance