Monday, December 25, 2006

A Different Kind of Messianic Dream

In my dream, there are six or eight men who have all trained people to float in the air. Many observers are skeptical, even when they see the students clearly floating. Transparent support wires are proposed as the obvious secret to the feat.

But I see things differently. I say to my companion, “I don’t have any trouble believing this. As we get closer to the arrival of Moshiach, more and more of our human capacities are being revealed. This ability to float in the air must be just one of them.”

Even in my dreams, I have faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I anticipate every day (and at night) that he will come.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's 1938 Again

"It's 1938 and Iran is Germany."

It seems that everywhere I turn lately, Jewish writers and thinkers whose work I admire are drawing the parallel. I, who was born well after the Holocaust, have never before lived in a time when the world felt fundamentally unsafe.

The world feels fundamentally unsafe. We are living in serious times.

The nuclear threat from Iran, the beginning of the North American wave of aliyah, the coming of the Mosiach, my personal, desperate need to be in Israel – these things are all connected.

I think about the Jews in Germany who sniffed out that whatever was coming was NOT GOOD and got themselves the heck out of there before 1938. For every one who did, there must have been dozens of people in their lives who doubted their sanity, thought they were overreacting and tried to talk them into staying in Germany.

I fear for my friends and family members whose eyes are not yet open. I know I sound like a lunatic to them. What I really want to say is, “It’s hard to accept that there has been a fundamental shift in the world, but there has been. At a minimum, I beg you to make sure your passport is current, in case you have to escape to Israel. Pay attention to the news. Notice the parallels between the news and what was happening in Germany in the years before the war. You can’t pretend that something massive is not happening. Something massive is happening. Please notice!”

Of course, everyone asks the same question, “How much sense does it make to run to Israel if Israel is the center of the storm?”

As my friend R. reminded me today, this would be a perfectly logical question, IF the history of the Jewish people was based in logic. But everything about our history is lemalah min ha teva – it goes beyond the principles of rationality.

A crystal clear pattern emerges from the most basic study of T’Nach and Jewish history. When the Jews do wrong, Hashem empowers an enemy to force us to do teshuva, to repent. When we do, the enemy is vanquished.

What is our sin? I have a theory. In 1948, Hashem handed dominion over Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people for the first time in 2000 years. And what did most of us do?

We stayed put.

Hashem offered us a gift and we turned up our noses and said, “No thanks.”

“No thanks. I can make more money in America.”
“No thanks. My family has a very nice house (and two cars!) in America.”
“No thanks. All our friends and family live in America.”
“No thanks. We already live a life of Torah and mitzvot in America.”

Hashem’s response?

“Well, if you’re not going to value my gift, I’m going to take it away.”

This is why making aliyah at this time makes perfect sense.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Might As Well Face It, I'm Addicted To Israel

I am addicted to Israel. A blessing that is also a curse.

I can’t stop obsessing about the place. I am constantly reading an endless stream of books about Israel. The place is perpetually on my mind. I can talk about it for hours and hours without flagging. If I’m not actually there, I’m planning for the next time I get to be there.

This past Shabbat, my teenager daughter told me that she is tired of all my talk about Israel and, in typical teenager-speak, she assured me that so are all her friends.

This is not a new form of censure. Certain adult friends have also, ahem… encouraged me to express an interest in other things. All my life, people have told me that I am “too intense”. One more reason I want to live in Israel – it’s the most intense country in the world, so, in that regard, I expect to fit right in.

Four times before in my adult life, I have been absolutely certain that a certain future course of action, each a major paradigm shift, was correct. In each case, my intuition, my binah was correct and the outcome was completely positive. I know we will end up living in Israel someday. But until we get there, what do I do with the energy that roils around in me?

What is it about this place that so captivates me? I recently heard an interview with Israeli actress Meital Dohan who lives in New York part-time. “Israel is my husband,” she said, “but New York is my lover.” I can so relate to that thought. Baltimore is my husband, but Israel is my lover.

The place is other-worldly. The history, yes, but also the promise of redemption. The luminous future of the Jewish people.

The spiritual energy of the Land lures me.

In the end, it is Gd who calls to me. I know that.

No wonder I can’t reign it in.

Borat

Musing about this film, in that liminal state between being fully asleep and fully awake, it occurred to me that Borat's name is a conjunction of two words - boor and rat, both of which describe Sacha Baron Cohen's character perfectly. The film was outrageous and funny. The potential for offense was obvious, but muted for me when I realized, early on, that in the scenes in which he was supposed to be speaking his native Kazakhstani language, he was actually speaking Hebrew. An inside joke for the Jews.

In the end, what bothered me the most was not the anti-Jewish elements, or even the anti-women elements, because they were so over the top that they could only be understood as parody. What bothered me the most was that, in posing as a foreigner, he abused the trust of the people he interviewed. That makes him a boor and a rat.