Okay Rabbi, here's a challenge for you. Chassidic texts teach that there is a positive life-lesson in everything we see or hear. So get out your Geiger counter and find me the silver lining in $4 a gallon gas (oops! it just went to $4.24).

Well I love a challenge, so here goes:

Why the outrage? Was $3 a gallon acceptable, $3.25? $3.75?

Let's take a short lesson in relativity.

1) How much more is the new price than the old? Don't start reaching for your calculators, the query is metaphoric not literal.

2) How much better is a '08 Lexus than an '86 Oldsmobile? They both achieve an identical basic function, transporting you from home to the grocery at about the same speed. So how much more fortunate, in real terms, is the tycoon than the working stiff?

[Disclaimer: I am not discounting the real poverty that affects so many; I understand that they are not worrying about $4 gas; they are worrying about their next meal. This post is addressing car owners staring at the pump meter cycling around like a slot machine.]

3) We are now in another heated race for the Presidency, but what is really the difference between the parties and candidates? The most leftwing and furthest rightwing politicians agree on the basic principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of a good pastrami sandwich.

[All high school social studies teachers screaming about the significance of the presidency, kindly adapt the previous disclaimer and take a chill.]

Now imagine the Pharaohs of old, ancient monarchs, dukes and noblemen—they didn't have internal combustion engines to propel their vehicles, even a jalopy is superior to their golden chariots.

And how wide is the divide between the Democrats and Republicans? Contrast them against all other forms of governments, from monarchy to anarchy.

And the difference between $4.24 (uh oh; just went to $4.32) a gallon and the "good old days" (that would be two years ago) is still only about $10 a fill up... Real money to be sure, but if that's a breaking point, you were living beyond your means before the price spike.

So are we falling into the trap of fixating on issues that are of relatively little consequence?

Recessions come and go; they always do. That is how this country has thrived for more than two hundred years. The economy will adjust and happy days will be here again. And even if they won't, sad news indeed, yet our identity is who we are, not the state of the economy or who the president is; those things are fleeting.

We, as Jews, have a special affinity for worrying. Perhaps it stems from our obligation to care for the entire world. Sometimes, however, our concerned nature gets sidetracked to areas that a) we can't control and b) are not genuinely determinative. That's where the G‑dly soul has to put up the stop sign and remind us, "Hello! It is far more important how much time you spend with your children than how much you spend at the pump. Putting on tefillin or helping Mrs. Teplitz carry her groceries up to her apartment are tangible ways you can change this country, far more meaningfully than electing a particular official."

It takes months to get a bill though congress or drill for oil, yet only a moment to perform an act of kindness to bring redemption to the world.

So stay home a little more often; focus on those things you can do something about and count your blessings. Contemplate the abundance we share and the insignificance of it all.