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Welcome o e Promied Land
By Mendel Jacobson\Jerusalem

Horses, their masked riders in black urging them on, trample over a crowd of young men and women; clubs and batons, in a furious rhythm, go crack against skulls and their caps; girls’ ponytails are used as handholds to drag them away; demonstrators, tens of thousands perhaps, fill the streets; parliament members, blood streaking down their noses and cheeks, cannot act diplomatically; homes, once a place of joy and comfort, now being torn away; families, who were changing their little part of the universe, are now homeless. Welcome, my friends – welcome to the Promised Land.

The Escapist:

The world is a horrid place: everything here dies. We hate each other, like only two brothers can. It is cold and dark, and I am numb from the false pretense of existence. I feel them closing in on me and I make a decision – I will jump, commit physical suicide, escape from the prison of Body and dedicate myself solely to my soul. I will hide behind my books, crawl under my prayer shawl, and wrap myself in pure ecstasy. What of everybody else, will I just let them freeze to death? It’s not my problem; let someone else care for them. I do what I have to do: this is a dog-eat-dog world and I am not going to starve, or be someone’s puppy. Survival of the fittest, and I think I’m fit to survive.

The Slave:

I feel the confines slipping over me like a vaporous cloud. I cannot stop it. I haven’t the power to fight. What can a little nothing like me do? Nothing. So I sit resigned to fate. Sure I’ll do what is asked of me, maybe even help my fellow if in need, but I do it because I’m bound to it; not because I want to. I worship Environment: cold normalcy is my eye, and status quo my vision. Why don’t I become alive, step out of this robotics of mine? Simply: because it is too damn hard. So, instead I lie here, letting the chains tighten around my wrists and ankles – and am thankful that at least the chains are predictable.

The Zealot:

The enemy is coming closer; we are trapped and must strike out: attack them with brute force. Life is war, and the only way one wins a war is by fighting a war. Peace? Ha, now that’s a laugh. See where peace has gotten us so far – to the grave, to the grave it has gotten us. No, we will take up arms, brothers in arms, and battle it out. What if the arms you take up are against your brothers – is that still “brothers in arms”? I don’t care: they want war, and they will get war. We will not go like sheep to the slaughter. Oh no, we have done that before and look where it got us. We will fight. But why waste your energy on fighting a war when you were told to use all your energy to receive the Torah, to forge ahead? Why fight, which has many non-casual casualties, when you can continue on? Why fight when you were never told to fight? I fight because I have to fight. That’s why I fight. What if I told you there was another way, would you still fight? There is no other way. There is only one solution – war, and only war, will save us now.

The Dependant:

What can we do? We must pray. I feel the dark cloud surrounding even our possibilities, even our hopes, even our beliefs, we must pray. When there is nothing else, there is always prayer. I will put my life in His hands; let him guide me. What do I know? I know only one thing: You and only You can save me now. So, here take my prayer and do as you see fit. What about you, don’t you think you can change your fate? Who? Me? Who am I? I am nothing. Only He, He who created me, can change my fate. I am fated to fate. I don’t want to jump in the Torah Sea and hide behind my fur coat; I don’t want to return and enslave myself to normalcy; I don’t even want to go to war; I just don’t want to make the decision: I’ll pray and He’ll decide. What about the power vested in you to change the universe? What power? What you? What change? What universe? He is all and all is He – I am nothing, nothing but a prayer.

The Forger:

Then there is I, The Forger – he who forges ahead. I don’t care what anybody says – water, no water; Egyptians, no Egyptians – G-d told us we are going to the Mountain, so we are going to the Mountain. There is water in front of us? So what? G-d also created water: water is also G-dly. I’ll just wave my hand over the water and show you how the water is but an extension of G-d. You don’t believe me? Poof, it splits. What was once hidden is now revealed: the sea split to show you how underneath it all, it too, the final boundary between exile and redemption, is but a tool of G-d’s and, therefore, a tool of ours. But it is so hard, finding the truth in everything and revealing it. Yes, but if you were to find the truth in yourself, split your sea so that your essence is uncovered, would it then be so hard to find the essence in everything else? I don’t think so.

We live in weird – or normal – times, where all of our dreams seem to be trampled on by horses, and none of us can agree on what to do: some say we should escape; some say we should succumb to slavery; some say we should go to war; and some say we should pray and depend solely on G-d. What do we do? Do we rely on our own intuition, on our own feelings? Then certainly we would never agree. We seem to have no leader, no Moses to tell us what to do. But, as Yud Shvat dawns, the day the Rebbe accepted leadership of a broken and devastated people,, I realized that the answer to our question must lie in the teachings of the Rebbe. And so I believe it does: no one should be an escapist, nor a slave, nor a zealot, nor a dependant – one must forge ahead, ahead to the receiving of the Torah, by spreading that which the Torah stands for and, therefore, spreading, in fact “splitting”, all that which seemingly stands in our way.

February 1, 2006

Posted on February 15, 2006
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