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Caught between two worlds

ONE GOD – MANY WORLDS

As a student of Jewish philosophy, I have been taught that a human being does not live and exist in just this world. We also exist simultaneously in realms and worlds higher than our understanding. It has been ingrained in me that my every act has consequences, positive or negative, and affects upper and lower worlds. The Kabbalah teaches us that one way to draw down blessings is to do something good, which creates positive energy and then goodness will be reciprocated back to us. It is not unlike the four main stages in the water cycle. They are evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. In other words, water evaporates and ascends above and then comes back down in liquid form.

The way I understand this is that while my feet are firmly planted on terra firma, my consciousness ascends much higher. I have a material life as well as a spiritual one. Often, I feel caught in the middle of two worlds where my ego tells me one thing, but my humble side tells me something else. The ultimate goal is to make peace between the two, which means live life to the fullest physically and materially and nurture one’s spiritual side at the same time.

FEELING SQUEEZED

Lately I have been feeling that I am caught between two worlds wherever I go. Some examples: If I turn the channel to CNN (not that I do anymore) I get one set of world news, but when I go to FOX (not that I do anymore), I get a completely different picture. I sometimes ask myself, are they talking about the same topic? How can the news be so disparate when news is supposed to be a reporting of the facts? If it is not factual then it cannot be called news, can it?

It is more than just the news. I am on social media and I am witness to two completely different worlds. One person writes, if you believe ABC then unfriend me now, while someone else posts if you believe XYZ then unfriend me now. I am so surprised that Facebook and Instagram have any friends left.

I am in my 50s so I know it was not always like this. The country is so divided that I am actually fearful for my children. If things do not get better soon we will be in deep trouble. We must find a way to reach common ground so that we can talk to each other. As I have insomnia, I think about this plenty. The following are my humble offerings.

BE OPEN

I have been doing the following as of late and I find it really helps me be a better person. When someone says something that I vehemently disagree with, I do not respond with an immediate knee jerk retort. What I do instead is thank them for their perspective and opinion and calmly give my opinion. I do this not in a warlike way, but rather in an intellectual discussion between two adults. This allows me to learn something new and it allows the other person to hear me out, which he would not do if I were engaged in verbal warfare.

THINK FOR YOURSELF

Another way to help lower the flame is to simply spend a few moments to think for yourself. The media shoves a lot of garbage down our throats. We can be so gullible that we take every talking head at face value. I have met people as you have that seem cultish the way they talk about the burning issues of the day. I understand passion and have great respect for it, but I will never understand cult like behavior. What I mean by this is that some of these people that I meet cannot function properly. Their work is lacking, friendships are torn apart and children’s playdates are cancelled. It is really obscene to witness. If it has gotten to this stage, you need to take a giant leap back.

Personally, I like to call myself an independent thinker. I do not vote down party lines and I definitely do not agree with half the issues that each party brings forth as gospel. I regurgitate the information I hear and come to my own decisions.

COMMON SENSE

Which leads me to the next thought…Common sense is clearly not so common. In fact, I find it to be quite rare. There are so many things that I have seen over the past few years, both domestically and globally, where I say to myself whoa, that does not make sense and it is actually counter intuitive. How can this be? Why has simple logic been thrown out the window? Of course, there are many things that are above my paygrade and I lack information. However, there are many things that lack basic common sense. I am always open to attempting to understand the reasoning or ruling but I am not foolish. Logic comes before party and common sense comes before uncommon sense.

I have not mentioned anything specific because I do not want these thoughts to deteriorate into politics. I am caught in the middle of a storm and I do not like it. We need to go back to civil disagreements as human beings. Remember Blockbuster?  Be kind – rewind.

That’s all for me.

Share if you think it will help.

About the Author
Rabbi Yakov Saacks is the founder and director of The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY. The Chai Center has been nicknamed by some as New York's most Unorthodox Orthodox Center.

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