Are you a visionary? Look at the picture below. How do you perceive it? What kind of a person are you? I know that many of you have already seen this picture before, maybe from an email that you received or in a psychology or business class, but play along again anyway. What's your first impression? Look closely, and decide what you see BEFORE you scroll down. There is no wrong answer.
Did you see in the picture, an old woman who looks like a witch, or a young woman looking into the distance? Again, there is no wrong answer really, but what you perceived can tell you a lot about yourself.
From the replies I received below from my last blog piece, I think that maybe we can divide ourselves into 2 groups: The Me Jews and the We Jews.
The Me Jew is one that sees the warts of today, or sees only the 'instant gratification' of pleasure and comfort. They are like, what my Iranian guest said on my radio show this week, "Americans usually act for the moment's benefit. They don't care what will happen tomorrow. They say, "I need this today, so I'll do this today. If there is a price to pay, I will pay it tomorrow." These Jews are not visionaries. They see only the moment and what is good for them. Imagine if our ancestors who came to the Holy Land in the early part of the century said, "There's swamps there, malaria, and Turkish/Ottoman rule. I'm not going to THAT place." These 'Me Jews' are trapped in the moment. They have no view of what waits for them in the long run. They are not visionaries, because they cannot see beyond their immediate scope. Their scope of view is severely limited. They will pay a price for this. We have seen it all throughout our history. Yet it appears that each generation of Me Jews think it won't happen to them, that THEIR host country is different. Spain was enlightened and Jews lived VERY well there. Jews were employed by the King and Queen of Spain. What could happen to them when Jews were welcomed and saw such comfort? Impossible that Spain would turn on them.
Come up further in time. It's Germany, in the 1930's. Berlin was the hippest place in Europe. The poets, writers, actors, transvestites and homosexuals all sat at cafes and smoked and drank. They were 'the Beautiful People' of their generation. They argued politics, philosophy, Spinoza, religion, capitalism, communism, and reveled in their Yiddish and Yiddish theatre. They were IT, at their pinnacle of coolness, hipness, intellectualism and comfort. Berlin was the new Jerusalem! They fought in wars, were German war heroes, and proudly wore their medals. They are all dead now, because they thought, "The cultured Germans could never do such a thing! They could not burn people at the stake like Spain and Portugal did in the inquisition." No, Germany burned their Jews not at the stake, but in the ovens.
And today's American, British, French, (fill in the blank) Me Jews say the same thing. Our generation is different. They would never do such a thing. But what they do not remember, is that G-d said he would wield His justice on the nations of the world in the end of days. If it doesn't happen that a certain country will turn against its Jews, the Jews should know that they will suffer whatever fate the host-nation suffers. The safest place for the Jewish People will be in Israel. Perhaps it looks like Israel is not the 'young woman in the picture above', but this may just be the 'Yetzer haRah' (evil inclination') just testing you. G-d wants you to YEARN for Israel, not YELL at Israel. He wants you to DESIRE His Land, not DISS His Land. He wants you to not only love your own tuchus, but your nation. If our forefathers were Me-Jews, we would never have merited the Torah. It is contrary to Torah to be a Me-Jew.
The 'We Jew'
The 'We Jew' is a Jew that looks beyond his inner circle. He is one who cares and acts for his fellow Jew and humanity. He knows we have a long history and that we have a future that is up to us to develop. He is the young woman in the picture, looking towards the future. The We Jew understands that there are more important things than his comfort for the moment. That is why he is willing to immediately give 10% of his earnings to charities and the Poor. He knows that whatever money he made, 10% of it is NOT his, it is G-d's and he is to use it for helping others. The We Jew is willing to live in a tent, in uncomfortable conditions, because he loves the land of Israel and cannot stand to see it sit fallow and uncared for. He wants to bring Jewish life back into the area, where Jewish children will run and play and go to school, and Jewish mothers and fathers will walk their babies, play with their children, plant gardens and raise Jewish families. The We Jew will not make 'conditions' that suit him before he does the RIGHT thing. He CHANGES the bad situation and makes it better for future generations. He is not a wimp. He does not rationalize to himself and others, making excuses why he does not have to roll up his sleeves and move. The We Jew knows there is MORE to life than being comfortable. He is the one who is willing to walk the walk. The We Jew is a visionary. He is the person G-d wants us to strive to be. G-d wants us to leave our comfort zones, and go above and beyond what we are today.
I will finish with this song, probably my favorite of all time. And if you think it is corny for me to post these lyrics of this song, you can laugh, but I hope you would join me in striving for more than comfort, illusionary safety, and a life lived not having filled its potential. Sing, "If you don't have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?" Sing along with this song as well, my favorite. Please view this great 3 min video below:
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
Come home. Join your nation. The Impossible Dream is NOT impossible.