Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

So here I am, sitting in my bed at 9:30 on a Wednesday night, just starting to write my post. Natch. However, the difference between now and all those other times is that now I’m in a fantastically good mood. I just finished my last day of class, so summer school is over. I have two finals in the next few days that I’m very well prepared for, so there’s that. I’m about to head into an awesome weekend. In Waves, Trivium’s new album, just hit the shelves yesterday and I’m blasting it so loud that the walls of my currently empty-except-for-me house are shaking. Awesome music effectively serves as my ultimate muse. Speaking of which, I’m really happy the last few weeks were not my posting responsibility because I find that I write better with background music, and that’s a no-no during the three weeks. Conveniently, the posting schedule gave me the day right after Tisha B’Av, so music is once again allowed. That in and of itself should be enough of a reason to launch into another music post, but I’m actually thinking more along the lines of the Tisha B’Av side of this than the music side. You see, now that it’s passed, I can avoid thinking about my favorite pastime (i.e. fasting) until October when Tzom Gedaliyah and Yom Kippur roll around, a fact that is contributing significantly to my good mood. But, of course, when you’re trying desperately not to think about something, that’s all you end up thinking about. So now that I’m thinking about fasting and Tisha B’Av, I’m going to run with that and return to a favorite topic of mine, the quick-to-judge nature of the worldwide Jewish community. With any luck, I’ll come out of the other side of this in as good a mood as I was when I started…

This story begins, as do most things these days, with Facebook.

Before fasts and holidays, people tend to post inspirational or comforting statuses and notes. Mine was about how Tisha B’Av last year saved my life, but a good friend of mine put something up with a decidedly different angle, and I quote:

“Tisha B'Av, in my opinion, is not a day where we mourn the destruction of the Temple. It is a day where we mourn the failure of solidarity and [our] intolerance [of] each other.” –Jonathan Heller

Bingo! My thoughts exactly. Aside from the fact that I totally agree with the overall theme (i.e. why the heck can’t we all just get along despite our differences), if you take a second to actually analyze the situation, it’s even historically accurate. What’s the reason given by just about everyone for the destruction of the Second Temple? Baseless hatred. There you go. I’d imagine it manifested itself in the same ways as it does these days, except it’s probably easier to stone a guy driving on Shabbat if he’s riding a horse-and-buggy as opposed to a Lambo. I know, I know, it’s an extreme example and I keep using it, but it’s completely accurate and it conveys my point in stunning clarity. People are too quick to judge based on appearances and jump to conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. As I mentioned when I brought this up last month, what if that guy was driving on Shabbat to save someone’s life? It’s hard to always think that way, but the importance of doing so is unparalleled.

A colleague of mine told me a parable recently that illustrates this point perfectly in a few lines: There was once a chassid who was running after his rabbi who was leaving town on a horse on Shabbat. The chassid was chasing him down, yelling and crying. What was he yelling? “Rebbi, please don’t leave me! I still have so much to learn from you!”

I don’t think I need to explain that story; the message pretty self-evident. Also, I don’t think I could put it any better than Heller did up there, and to try to would be to repeat myself. There are only so many times I can say the same thing and keep it interesting, and given that I have a tendency to get long winded when I get on a roll, I think I’ll stop right here. I hope we can all be a little more cognizant of this idea, as were never going to get our third chance at the Temple until we can all look past our individual differences and accept each other for who we are: brothers and sisters in a small tribe that need to support each other as much as we can.

Now excuse me while I go continue with my good mood :)


Song of the Day: In Waves – Trivium

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