Imagine walking to a store and buying a bottle of water. The price is $1.50. You pay, thank the cashier and go on your way.
Next week, you return to the store and buy the same water bottle. This time, the price is $1.75. And the following week, the price is suddenly $1.30.
How would that make you feel?
Most likely, you will never come back to the store again. Because we expect prices to be predictable, and while an occasional increase in price is understandable, having prices fluctuates wildly is something we will not accept.
Yet, this is what we get when we pay for energy.
We paid close to $4 at the pump just a few months ago. Now, it’s about $3. And in a month from now… who knows? We simply have no clue what the price is going to be.
And the same applies when we pay for electricity or natural gas.
The world has an energy problem, and we are all paying the price.
This is why I got excited when the scientists reported a breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion research.
The first time I came across this term, I was sure I knew what it meant. Nuclear, like the atomic bomb and like nuclear energy, correct? I was wrong. Because nuclear fusion is the exact opposite of what is known today as nuclear energy.
In straightforward terms, a nuclear reactor is about splitting particles into smaller particles; nuclear fusion is about combining small particles into one bigger particle.
And while both methods can potentially produce an enormous amount of energy, using a nuclear reactor means creating a tremendous amount of radioactive waste that must be dealt with.
Nuclear fusion has none of it. It’s clean and has no waste involved. And if scientists keep at it, it will be a sustainable solution to all of our energy problems.
This got me thinking about how there are two ways to energize people.
You can split them. You can divide them. You can focus on the differences, creating classes and sub-classes, and grouping people into small groups based on their political leaning, gender, origin, etc.
Will it energize people? You bet. Having the feeling of us vs. them can be a big motivator to people.
But it will also create a lot of waste. Many bad feelings and other issues happen when we focus on our differences.
Yet there is a better way: to connect people together.
To give people the awareness that while we might look like different “particles,” we are all one.
Now we got some clean and sustainable energy!
I wonder if the scientists at the National Ignition Facility realized the social implications of their breakthrough.
I also wonder if they realize this breakthrough happened in perfect timing: during the year of Hakhel – the year of gathering.
This year, we are encouraged to create as many gatherings as possible, connecting with each other and reigniting our connection with G-d.
Reading the Rebbe’s passionate talks about this topic and seeing how, at every given opportunity, he would encourage us to create more gatherings, we might wonder: is it that important?
When we read the news, the answer becomes clear. Nuclear fusion is teaching us the power of getting together. It can transform the world!
With Chanukah around the corner, now is the perfect time to think about your Hakhel.
Think about hosting a Chanukah party for your family, friends, or neighbors. If you have already planned one or you will be participating in a Chanukah gathering, think about ways to infuse it with meaning and faith in G-d. Share an idea from the Torah; prepare Jewish songs for everyone to sing together. Make it a memorable Hakhel.
And remember: you will be creating energy that will sustain you and your guest for years.