Sunday, January 13, 2008

Paradox

One of my favorite things to do in Israel is to listen to tales of people’s Jewish journeys. So many people with amazing Jewish stories end up in Israel. It’s so inspiring. I’ve noticed frequently that many of the most powerful stories come from people who were not born as Jews. Converts to Judaism seem to be able to see clearly that Jewish life in Israel is a natural extension of their Jewish journey. They keep growing and that growth leads them to a life in Israel.

It's a paradox that it can be so clear to some and so off-the-radar-screen for others.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How Soon Will The World Change?

About five years ago, I stumbled upon a new avenue of Jewish information that blew me away. It’s called Facilitated Communication and, at least in a Jewish context, it offers a way for the world to access spiritual information in a most unexpected way.

The process, at least for the layperson, is relatively simple. Profoundly physically handicapped, often autistic, children are given a means to communicate, either through an alphabet board, a computer keyboard or other instrument. With the physical support of a trained facilitator, these Jewish souls (for they are more soul than body at this stage) deliver messages from another, higher level of reality that most of us can’t access with our intact brains.

They “speak” of great changes coming to the world. They passionately urge all Jewish people to return to Gd. They excoriate the profound attachment even religious Jews, and especially religious Jews in America, have to the material world. They teach that the destruction of the World Trade Center was a lesson. The Twin Towers were the symbol of gashmiut, and, just as they were destroyed and ground to dust, soon, so will the rest of the materialism with which we fill our lives.

When I first started learning about this, I bought several books that published transcribed conversations, usually between an autistic child from a Jewish family and a parent, with the help of a trained facilitator. At first, the books scared me, because they revealed the actual presence of a world beyond our own. But after a time, I became comforted by the evidence in these books that a more spiritual level of reality actually exists, and that these souls, tortured in this world, have the ability to open limited access to other, more spiritual levels of existence.

I didn’t exactly forget about this whole avenue of Jewish information, and I reread the books a few times, but time passed and they lost their hold over me.

And then, a few months ago, someone sent me to a website with brand new facilitated communications. And just this week, while shopping for books about geula in a Jewish bookstore, I came across the new book that publishes much of the material on the website.

It is less than an hour before Shabbat in the part of the world in which I find myself. I just finished reading the first 65 pages of the book and, even though the book foretells that we are at the cusp of a very dark and difficult time, my soul leaps within me, because the messages also reminds us of the process of giving birth. As I can tell you from first-hand experience, in the last hours before birth, the pain is indescribable. It was as if my body was separate from the rest of me. And yet, eventually, the pain subsided and I had the simcha of a new, healthy baby.

This is the stage of the world we are in. We are as a woman in late stages of labor. There are dark and difficult times ahead, when the world will change in ways we can’t anticipate, but there is also Redemption following.

To this ultimate end, my soul leaps.

Even if you’re sure I’m wrong, or if you’re simply not sure what to think, look at this site. Read this book.

Because that way, you won't have to weep and say, "I didn't know. I didn't see it coming."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Staying Awake

Here’s how it feels to be me.

There’s an underlying disquiet that never really leaves me. I am, at all times, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It could be imminent. It could be years from now. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen to my family in particular, but that something will happen on a global scale that will affect my family. And my biggest concern now is staying awake, staying alert, making sure I do what I can to keep my family safe.

I have been teaching a Jewish history course for several months now. When you look at Jewish history globally, from Biblical times to the present, you have to be struck by how certain themes prevail.

There really are, perpetually, enemies that want to annihilate us. Jewish history truly does keep repeating itself.

And we never learn.

We cozy up, time and again, to our hosts in the Diaspora, and promptly experience group amnesia.

There’s a shul around the corner from my home that has tripled its building size in the last year. Building and building as if the next several decades of Orthodox life in America will be much like the previous ones. That’s group amnesia.

The feeling that something big is coming won’t leave me. So I wake up every day expecting it.

I often think of the Jews in Germany in the 1930s. Of the ones who said, “Something bad is coming,” and of the people in their lives who said, “Don’t be silly. This will all blow over.”

It’s not like I think another physical annihilation is headed our way, Gd-forbid. This time, I think it could come in another realm – an economic annihilation would be particularly fitting for the Jews of America. But if I tell people that I worry that I will awaken one day holding dollars that are worth 10% of what they were worth the night before, they look at me like I’m cracked. When I consider, despite the tax implications, that I should liquidate some of our retirement savings and pay off our Israeli mortgage, even I question whether I’ve taken this currency devaluation worry a bit too far.

But what if I’m right.