Dr. Philip BrodieThe author worked at the University of Pittsburgh where he received his doctorate. He made aliya recently with his wife and lives in Maaleh Adumim.
I have a friend. He’s a new Oleh. He’s from America. He was born and raised in Wyoming.
If you’ve never heard of Wyoming, that’s okay. Most Israelis haven’t heard of it, either.
Wyoming is in America’s far West. Jews don’t go there. For example, New York City has more than 1.7 million Jews. Wyoming has 1,150. Only South Dakota (345) and North Dakota (400) have fewer Jews.
Wyoming is practically empty. Look at the numbers. As of 2012, Wyoming has a total population of about 576,000. Those people are spread out over 97,814 square miles. That creates a population density of less than 6 people per square mile.
By contrast, New York City has more than 8,300,000 people living within app 302 square miles. The population density of New York City is 27,550 people per square mile.
Compared to New York City, Wyoming is empty. In fact, compared to all the other states, Wyoming is empty—it’s population ranks 50th of 50. You could walk for days in Wyoming and not see another human being.
To a man born and raised in Wyoming, that emptiness means something. It means self-reliance. It means that when you go out on the range, you are alone. There are no cabbies or cops driving by every ten minutes. There are no bus stops every few blocks or subway entrances every 2,000 feet. If you are in Wyoming and you get into trouble, emergency response time won’t be 3 or 4 minutes (the average for New York City). Wyoming is empty.
My friend’s grandpa was a cowboy. He spent entire days riding his horse alone on the range. One day, when my friend was a child, he noticed his grandpa carried two guns, one in a holster on his hip, the other tucked into a sleeve attached to his horse’s saddle. He said, ‘Grandpa, why do you carry two guns?’
Grandpa replied, ‘The rifle in my saddle is a Winchester. It’s for four-legged animals. The pistol is a Colt .45. That’s for two-legged animals.’
Grandpa understood how to survive. He understood cowboy logic.
Cowboy logic is simple. You acknowledge the reality in front you. You don’t ignore it. You don’t play, ‘let’s make believe.’ You don’t play, ‘if only’. You make decisions based on what’s real, not desired.
Reality is not a game. Reality on the range does not reward stupid decisions.
Cowboy logic means that if you have a dispute with someone, and that person is reasonable, you talk. But if that person is not reasonable—if, for example, he gets in your face and shouts he will kill you—then you defend yourself: that’s what guns are for.
In a way, cowboy logic is like the Jewish religion. It places a high value on correctly assessing reality.
In Israel today, Jewish leadership does not place high value on reality. For example, some suggest that we are in Israel today only because of European guilt over the Holocaust. That’s untrue.
Others say we are here only because the United Nations voted to create us. But that’s only superficially true. We are here today because of the Torah.
That’s our reality. For almost 2,000 years, our Torah and Torah-inspired prayers have reminded us that we are Destined to return to Israel.
Without our Torah and without those prayers, we wouldn’t have been interested in lobbying for the Balfour agreement. We wouldn’t have worked for a reconstituted national Jewish homeland in Palestine.
For almost 2,000 years, we prayed for this return. Now, it’s our reality.
Current Jewish leadership, however, will not accept our religion as our reality. They prefer Man-made politics; that’s why they release convicted terrorists as a ‘peace gesture.’
How realistic is that? How will putting unrepentant killers back on the street advance peace?
Our leaders won’t say. Instead, they talk of democracy. They reject their G-d. They prefer ‘the majority rules’.
In the Middle East, the Arab is the majority. Therefore, if the Arab doesn’t want us, we don’t belong here.
That’s how our leaders appear to think.
But our reality is not written by the Arab--or by anyone else. We did not survive nearly 2,000 years of exile because we surrendered to our enemies—or rejected our Torah. We survived because we believed in the Torah and its promise of return. That promise is now reality.
Cowboy logic says, you don’t survive if you ignore reality. Our leaders ignore reality.
Cowboy logic says, you survive by defending what’s yours. Our leaders do not defend what is ours.
Cowboy logic says, two-legged animals can be dangerous. Our leaders say, the only dangerous two-legged animals are Jews in Judea-Samaria.
Our leaders don’t like cowboys. Cowboys are too realistic. Cowboys defend themselves.
Our leaders should visit Wyoming. They might learn something about surviving reality.