A Nation of Dreamers

A Nation of Dreamers

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski Director, Chabad Upper East Side

chabadues@aol.com

Dreaming of the Great Awakening

To be human is to be a dreamer. From the beginning of time man distinguished himself by his restlessness and dissatisfaction with the status quo and by his incessant dreaming and yearning for a better world, a world that is whole and at peace with itself.

We dream of perfection and wholeness with every fiber of our being and with every bone in our body. Take physical health for example. When it comes to our health we refuse to even entertain the thought of compromise. Although hardly anyone we know is a perfect specimen of health, we uncompromisingly struggle against illness and refuse to settle for anything less then optimal health. People will gladly bankrupt themselves and undergo the most painful procedures in order to regain their health.

The Jewish people were assigned to be the world’s dreamers. The Jewish nation was built on nothing more then a vision and a dream. The Jewish people from its very inception were not a nation in the conventional sense of the word. Standing at Mt. Sinai with no land, no army, no government and no national treasury, all they had was a passionate idealism, a burning faith, an intense devotion, a powerful sense of mission and an unyielding commitment. The unconventional Jew fit into the family of nations, who had a more conventional definition of nationhood, like a sheep in a pack of wolves.

Nations like people need a strong dream, a clear vision and a healthy sense of mission to thrive; without it, they flounder and fade away. A clear mission and sense of purpose keeps the soul healthy; without it, the personality decomposes like a body without a backbone that collapses into a disjointed heap of bones.

The Jewish people survived for 3,800 years only because they had a strong sense of mission. At Mt. Sinai the Jewish people were charged with the mission of being a light onto the nations, volunteering to become a nation of prophets and priests, who would teach the world right from wrong and keep the dream of morality alive.

Even in their darkest moments, they cried out, "Next Year in Jerusalem", never wavering in their commitment. They were proud of and deeply cherished their Jewishness and their sense of being chosen for a unique and special mission. They witnessed the rise and fall of many mighty empires that have been reduced to the footnotes of history, while they never left its front page. It was the Jews’ sense of mission that kept their souls fresh, their minds vigorous and their families alive. With a vibrant and healthy soul, they could survive anything, Hitler too.

The Messianic Dream

The Jewish prophets standing on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem 2600 years ago, prophesied of a new world order, a world that would inevitably change for good. They predicted a world where the sheep, meaning the Jewish people, would lie in peace with the wolf, the seventy nations of the world. The Jew dreamt of a world in which the Jewish dream was so infectious and contagious that it would affect the nations of the world. It would be a world healed from the chronic disease of anti-Semitism, a world in which the Jew would not have to hide behind ghetto walls and fences.

Maimonides (Laws of Kings chaps. 12, 13) gives us the most articulate and comprehensive presentation of Jewish messianism. He postulates that there is nothing miraculous about the Redemption and that the messianic age will be a totally natural event. It is the status quo, the exile that is the aberration, the nightmare, the distortion and it takes an inordinate amount of energy to maintain this distortion.

Maimonides makes a startling statement, "When Moshiach comes there will be neither jealousy, nor hatred, nor ruthless competition." How will the nature of six billion people transform naturally from greed into sainthood?

Maimonides clarifies this by defining the messianic era as a time when the main occupation of the world, for Jew and gentile alike, will be the pursuit of information and knowledge -- the ultimate knowledge being the knowledge of G-d.

While materialism divides, spirituality unites. As long as people define themselves by materialism which comes in limited supply, the world will remain divided between the haves and the have-nots, which naturally leads to strife, war and conflict. Information, however, is a spiritual commodity. Not only does the knower not hoard his knowledge, he gladly shares it. There is an inexhaustible reservoir of knowledge with enough wealth to go around. Consequently, when people define themselves by knowledge and information, strife and conflict become anachronisms.

The information revolution has already created positive upheavals in our lives: The collapse of Communism and totalitarianism around the world is a direct result of the information revolution. It is inevitable that totalitarianism in the Middle East, an anachronism that has so far successfully resisted the wave of democracy that has swept throughout the rest of the world, will go the way of communism and become history.

In 1990-1991 Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of blessed memory urged all Jews to open their eyes and to realize that we are living through the realization of the messianic era as prophesied by all the Jewish prophets.

A dream come true

In the millennia long struggle between good and evil, hope vs. cynicism, idealism vs. pragmatism, the dream is finally beginning to materialize. We’ve experienced the unconditional surrender of Fascism in WW2, and the total victory of democracy over Communism in our day and age. Hard core business people are pouring billions of dollars into the vision of a disease free world in which people will live for hundreds of years in superb health.

In America, the Mt. Everest of materialism, many celebrities and billionaires who have fully realized the American dream and have climbed its peak, have realized the emptiness of materialism per se and are actively seeking out and clamoring for the spiritual teachings of Judaism. There’s a hunger for genuine spirituality, the Kabbalah.

In 1991, during the Gulf War, the Rebbe publicly proclaimed that we are on the threshold of redemption. He quoted the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni, in which G-d tells the Jewish people: "My children, have no fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Have no fear; the time for your redemption has arrived!”

Dreamer’s vs. pragmatist’s

How ironic that at a time when everyone from Madonna on down wants to connect with something Jewish, a tiny but vocal minority in Israel is seeking to disengage from Judaism and are gleefully trampling on all that’s sacred to the Jewish people. They represent an anachronism, a dying breed, and a materialistic pragmatic philosophy of life that has bankrupted in every market in the world.

Instead of being a shining example on how to lead an uncompromising war against terrorism, Israel today has surrendered to terrorism. Instead of leading the battle for truth and justice, Israel has caved in and cravenly embraced the lies of our sworn enemies. Instead of being an example of Hillel’s famous dictum: don’t do onto others what you don’t want done to yourself, Israel cruelly evicted 10,000 law abiding citizens and fellow Jews from their homes and destroyed their livelihoods. Instead of educating the world about the Jewish people’s true connection to the land of Israel, we’ve allowed a hostile world to brandish us as thieves and occupiers. Instead of displaying Jewish pride and dignity, Israel has demonstrated Jewish self denigration and humiliation. Israel today is blowing in the wind, rudderless and leaderless as it abandons its trustworthy, 3800 year old compass.

The Jewish people were the first to introduce to the world the idea of embracing conflict as a way of life and seeing conflict as something positive and wholesome. Life is a battle royale between good vs. evil, material vs. spiritual, potential vs. actual, truth vs. lies, darkness vs. light. The belief in one G-d means that man has the potential to reflect that unity by living a life that’s unified, consistent, wholesome and connected. The only way to achieve this personal breakthrough is through great effort and struggle to overcome the inner tensions & conflicts that results from our ego’s that distorts our genuine Divine nature.

While those who don’t believe in G-d loath conflict and desire peace at any price, there is no escaping the conflicts of body and soul. There’s only one way to satisfactorily resolve this conflict, where the soul wins and the body unconditionally surrenders itself to the guidance of the soul. When the body learns to ignore the loud sirens pulling it towards junk food and junk lifestyles and instead learns to heed the subtle, whispering voice of conscience to eat a wholesome diet and live a wholesome lifestyle, only then does the body learn the true meaning of satisfaction. The reverse, however, where the body prevails, only exacerbates the conflict. The soul may temporarily go into hiding but it could never learn to be fulfilled on a junk diet of crass, superficial and materialistic gratification.

History repeats itself

The pragmatists in our midst, have been a thorn in the side of the Jewish people from day one. While G-d was giving us the Torah, and Mt Sinai was enveloped in a divine flame, the pragmatists were busy with the Golden Calf oblivious to the real world impact of the Torah and its immeasurable worth. Being blinded by the Golden Calf they couldn’t see past their nose, surrendering instead to a life of instant gratification.

History repeats itself. To the pragmatist’s the only worthy settlements are the ones on Israel’s Silicon Valley and the only worthy struggle is to be listed on the American stock exchange. They have no appreciation of the settlers struggle for the basic right of a Jew to live anywhere in the world especially in Israel. Instead of loving people and using money, their philosophy is love money and use people.

The current disengagement engineered by the pragmatists, was a spiritual suicide attack aimed at the heart and soul of the Jewish people.

For a Jew life is a spiritual journey. We are each a link in a golden chain that goes back to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah and that will continue until the end of time! We are coming from Mt. Sinai and we are going towards Moshiach, confidently marching towards our rendezvous with destiny.

Jewish realism

The wise pragmatist’s behind the disengagement are the world's greatest fools. No nation on earth is powerful enough or affluent enough that it could afford to lose its soul! With a healthy soul we could survive Hitler; without a soul we don't have a prayer. These pseudo intellectuals have robbed Israel of its essence, its core truth and its spirit. History will never forgive them for their stupidity. Israel has been hijacked by a small but influential group of “intellectual terrorists” who harbor, justify, excuse and rationalize terrorism in the worst way. They have turned Israel into the greatest harbor of terrorists and suicide bombers in the world today!

Was it practical for our ancestors to remain Jewish while surrounded by a vast ocean of anti-Semites? Could one “sheep” surrounded by seventy “wolves” possible survive? If the Jewish people were practical, they would have chosen to surrender long ago. The survival of the Jewish people is irrational, illogical, impractical and miraculous.

Yet all the practical people throughout the ages are long forgotten, reduced to the dustbin of history. Only the impractical, stubborn, proud, and stiff necked Jew remains! In a world that is constantly changing only the impractical Jew never changes. The Jew never lived for the moment. Consequently, Jewish history is the only eternal history. When President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair will long be forgotten, the Jewish people will eternally remember the names of those who have betrayed them.

The Jewish people were always ready to sacrifice short term gain for long term goals. They knew that life is not a popularity contest. They taught their children not to succumb to the coarse, the immediate, the expedient and the popular, but to choose instead a life of honor, dignity, nobility and refinement. Every Jew alive today is a descendant of 3800 years of uninterrupted, uncompromising and unyielding stubbornness!

Yet even in our moment of disgrace one could see the unique ability of the Jew to concentrate the world’s attention like no one else can. Six billion people were mesmerized. They were glued to their TV sets as they watched the Jew put his unique, G-d given ability to change the world, to novel use. In disbelief they watched the Jew transform light into darkness, sweetness into bitterness, victory into defeat, and liberation into exile.

For the past 3800 years anyone who tried to obstruct Jewish destiny found himself on the wrong side of history. Politicians will quickly learn that the disengagement will have one clear result; it will be the Road Map to their political oblivion.

Far from being discouraged, the dream of a greater Israel and the dream of Moshiach have only been strengthened by the disengagement. Because it has revealed the utter bankruptcy of the “pragmatists” whose lethal ideas and catastrophic consequences have consistently brought the Jewish people and the entire world nothing but grief, death and despair. Their jubilation is premature and their victory is pyrrhic. It is nothing more then the dying man’s last hurrah before he makes his grand exit from the stage of history.

Their grand vision of how to deal with the great conflicts of life is to declare war against conflict itself and against those who dare believe in the value of fighting the good fight! All that’s left today of their discredited policies is shamelessness, arrogance, chutzpah and lies.

Jews won’t be discouraged because we know that we won and the war is over. The Lubavitcher Rebbe publicly proclaimed that we are on the threshold of redemption. Any moment we will experience the great awakening that we have dreamed of and worked towards for thousands of years. Every struggle, even the tiniest personal moral victory is another brick in the eternal edifice of the third Temple. United, we will triumphantly cross the thresh hold into the complete and final redemption. Now!