There are times when posts just come to me… flow out of me with great ease. There are days when I struggle to come up with something I think is meaningful and of any importance. And while the behavior is very High School like, it seems that in today’s world we measure our success by the number of likes or comments.
Lots of likes and comments = Good Post.
Crickets = Bad Post.
Obviously that is silly… and not everything one says will resonate with everybody… The key is to write personally and from the heart, and hope that it connects.
Interestingly, it is the teachings of Rebbe Nachman that are getting me to be okay with the struggle… to even thank Hashem for it. Wrestling with Hashem is a Jewish tradition… and with each other! That fierce debate and dialogue is who we are as a people. We are on a quest for knowledge and truth, and ultimately it is that which will keep us young and always moving forward.
I cannot say it is always a pleasant experience… to struggle… to be confused… but it is what it is and an honest assessment of where I may be at… And to go with that truth, with that reality is all one can do.
Rebbe Nachman is teaching me that it is not only okay but vital to speak from my heart and the very place I am at, at that moment… to admit in prayer or meditation that I am confused… don’t want to be here… have nothing to say, etc. That inner or hopefully outward dialogue can lead to great breakthroughs… and at the very least keeps you present and grounded and real. And THAT is how we truly connect… with ourselves and with Hashem!
Today is a struggle day… Not because I feel like I have nothing to say, but because there is too much going on inside my brain. I am all over the place… and struggling with a great deal. I want to keep this on a spiritual level… on a level about the journey… but if I am being honest, the secular and political worlds affect that journey… challenge it… and certainly throw up many obstacles to keeping the faith and the spirit alive.
I am deeply distressed that the Black Lives Matter movement has decided to use its platform to make a very ignorant and hateful statement against Israel. It is so beyond the pale, in fact, that groups from the very far left and right are all condemning it. But my question is this… Why should it take such vitriol and hate to unite… to come together… to unify?
It saddens me to the depths of my soul that anti-Semitism, all too often hidden under the veil of anti-Israel speech and action, is so alive and well in the world, especially in Europe but more frighteningly on college campuses across the United States.
Is it wrong to have a debate on Israeli policies? Of course not. Is it wrong to criticize Israel? No way. Israel has made many mistakes that need to be addressed. But we need to address them in a decent, civilized and educated way… with facts, not fiction.
Yet… when someone says they are Anti something… usually hate and anger comes out fairly quickly. To be ANTI-Israel is a revelatory statement… and if you mark it… follow it… observe those who make such a claim, you will find that anti-Semitism almost always follows. Look at the college campuses where the BDS thrives… so do anti-Semitic incidents. 2016 already boasts the most anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses, and the year is only half over. It is scary out there.
But then again, so is the group of Orthodox women in Jerusalem name calling and throwing things at other women who came to pray at the Kotel. I understand the need to maintain traditions and certain behaviors… I connect to the need for respect… but it has to work both ways. This anger will only serve to divide us… and that is something we can ill afford… especially now… especially in a world where we are being attacked… where anti-Semitism and a hate of Jews is literally “cool” and “trendy” and “hip.”
Those who seem to be so “open-minded” are able to accept so many things… and yet when it comes to Jews… the blood libel and hate does not dissipate… It clings and sticks and won’t go away. So many young people claim they want to eliminate human rights violations… to make the world a better place… and yet they focus their attention only on Israel. As if she is the very worst offender and the manufacturer of all the woes in the world.
If this is what is coming at us, we cannot allow ourselves to be anything but unified… We need each other now more than ever.
If you are regular reader of this blog, you know that I am a secular guy coming to his Judaism later in life… but with full force and passion to learn and study all that I can. I am a man without a Shul… a man on a sojourn, trying to figure out where he fits in… I do a little of this… and a little of that… and have even been told that the hypocrisy is okay…
The outside world and usually non-Jews try to poo poo my commitment and love of Judaism because I do not, as of yet, keep Kosher. “You’re not really Jewish,” they’ll say. But my more religious friends and Rabbis praise and celebrate the things I do, do. They tell me “I’ll get there,” but also make no judgments about where I am presently. They say that the “hypocrisy” simply means that you are trying… and finding the things you can do and want to do… and that it is SO MUCH BETTER than doing nothing.
An Orthodox Rabbi said something that has always stuck with me and empowered me… He prefaced it by saying that many Rabbis would not agree and would get mad at him for even telling us what he was about to say…
He told a group of us that obviously studying Torah and doing Mitzvot is important… so was keeping Kosher and keeping Shabbat… But he also said to put all of that aside… that they were not the most important thing to being a Jew… He said that the single most important thing you can do as a Jew is to be a Mensch… to ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING… to live your life as an example… to treat all people well… TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
And isn’t that what it is really all about? To become the best versions of ourselves? To unify and bring together our heads and our hearts… our soul and our body…
The very idea of Hashem is oneness… unity… undivided… Thanks to Rabbi Denbo, I now try to stop at each and every Mezzuzah and simply say “Echad.” One…
Our brains… the world… people around us will throw shade… cast doubt… set obstacles and pot holes on our path. So lets us come together… as one… Let us unify and unite and wrestle and struggle together… as one people… as one faith… AS ONE. Echad… Echad…