Chanukah 5778 lies behind us. I hope you enjoyed it.
However, the fight of Chanukah is not done! Not only does G^d miracles for us then as well as now, Classical Greek darkness is still covering the “enlightened” world, and Jewish light is more needed than ever before!
Not only Jews need to be liberated form Greek oppression – the whole world needs this. (And when Gentiles start promoting the so needed Jewish values, non-traditional Jews might get interested too.)
Seven prominent examples.
- Hellenist Competing Needs to Lose to Jewish Challenging
We know not only from the Olympics of Antiquity how Greek sports and competition work. It takes a whole groups of people competing against each other – in sports, career, war and life. The winner is king, one or two runner-ups may also get some glory and the rest are losers. The best way to make most people feel miserable. But if you’re made of the right stuff you won’t give up – you’ll kill yourself to win next time, still become topdog. At least to keep up with the Joneses, if you can’t defeat them.
Now Jewish competition. Everyone competes against … what you were until now. You don’t try to crush others; You strive to defeat your old self. We need to try to become the best one we may be. In this competition everyone can be a winner and no one else is made to lose!
We all need so much a world in which no one tries to beat anyone else.
- Hellenist Ladder Climbing Needs Upgrading to Jewish Career Choice
How many hours of breadwinners’ lives are wasted in the rat race! To be promoted all the time until reaching a job spot that s/he’s unfit for.
I once asked the stellar rabbi Reb Simcha Wasserman what takes precedence: learning and developing to open up one’s full abilities to work with, or focusing on what one may do with the talents and knowledge one has already. And this is what I remember he said:
Everyone comes down to this world to reach a unique goal.
To reach this goal, everyone got all the talents they need.
And when one does what one is here for, one becomes completely happy.
So, you only need to do what makes you happy.
I found out that that doesn’t mean that all will be simple and easy. But it helps to commit yourself to what makes you jump out of bed in the morning.
How much we all must stop making careers for ourselves, succeeding in life only meaning getting ahead, idolizing success stories, lightning careers, the rich and famous as if they must be beacons of morality.
- Hellenist Volition Needs to Make Way for Jewish Free Will
Greek philosophers “enlightened” us with ideas about free will that keep everyone confused even after 2000 years. The smartest people – if not thoroughly connected to Judaism – cannot believe in Free Will anymore, courtesy the founding fathers of the Western world.
These Thinkers pondered how any “choice can be free” if nothing pushes us towards one option or the other. Aren’t we always the plaything of our genes and circumstances? How could we escape the law of cause and effect? And if we can’t, how we could be held accountable? Two-and-a-half millennia of darkness with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Free Will in a Jewish light is so easy to understand. It’s not at all a “free choice” between two alternatives.
Rather, it is a recommendation to choose a higher moral option, also when you’re not sure you want that. To use your time, energy and power to decide to go against inertness, to swim against the tide of low expectations and high predictability, to reach for a higher moral record and life, to better oneself, no: to free (!) yourself from low ways of old.
Of course, when one chose to make such an effort, one is entitled to praise. And when we didn’t, we need to regret that, and resolve to do better from now on. (I hope to expand on this in the near future.)
The smartest the world over are not sure what is morality or free will, if not even they reject them out of hand. What a defeatist picture of life they try to teach everyone!
- Is Sex for the Fun of it?
It’s considered modern and sophisticated to see sex as something for fun. This is then a reaction against the old Christian idea that it is dirty, beastly and unholy, an unfortunate byproduct of making children.
However, Judaism has different ideas.
Sex is for procreation. But not only. It is a way to enjoy life, just like eating and drinking. But it can also be abused, just like eating and drinking.
The rabbis teach us that sex should be done between two committed partners only. That makes it deeply beautiful, human and holy! And that’s not all of it. It is a way to enjoy life but it also binds you deeply to your partner, over time, ending any feelings of loneliness or disconnectedness.
However, to work well, it should be done between partners who are “with it,” and who are friends – as they may show by first lots of listening to each other and cuddling.
Judaism also reminds us that sex this way keeps the doctor away.
Sex is for giving (and receiving) pleasure – not for grabbing. It makes sense that the rabbis tell us that for men, sex is a fulfillment of an obligation towards their partners. (Women do not need to be obligated – generally they are giving already.)
In comparison, sex just for the fun of it is not much fun. Just like giving in to tobacco or alcohol addictions is not really: having the time of your life.
We do not need laws against or condemnation of “wrong” sex. We need education to teach what it’s for and therapy to support that.
The world still needs to liberate itself from recreational sex and move towards sex as crown on a mutually satisfying steady relationship only.
- Undemocratic Democracies Need Democratizing
Democracy is a terrible system in which often lying and pretending win from truth and honesty. However, there is no better system and democratic society therefore is ideal.
Greece was the cradle of democracy, but in those days, anyone but a few rich men was excluded from it. It was democracy without the poor, the slaves, women – just like now children’s voices are not represented.
However, many modern democracies are run by people who don’t believe in it. They at best only pay lip service to the idea that all people – and their opinions – are valuable. They totally forget what it means to serve the people – they behave like old-fashioned rulers, more.
These politicians are not interested in the common (wo)man (their opinions, their concerns) but in their votes and admiration.
Worse, politicians are allowed to compete for voters’ favors who do not believe in equal rights and opportunities for all. Racists, Nazis, extreme religious fanatics and the like in many democracies are allowed to be on the ballot. They are permitted to spread their undemocratic ideas and use the political platform for trying to uproot it.
In Israel anyone who smells like a racist is excluded from being on the ticket. And that’s how it should be. Democracies should exclude any extremists who represent and disseminate undemocratic ideas and ideals. It is insane to allow people to use democracy to fight it.
And while elitists and the arrogant rule the world, we desperately need real democracy that includes the thinking and interests of everyone. The rabbis teach us that the Hebrew Bible tells us: we all come from the same parents (Adam and Eve), so no one can boast to be of more prominent lineage.
- Gentiles, Replace Disdain for Jews by Respect and Warmth
Doesn’t the above show how much the world needs Jewish wisdom?
But it won’t get it to the fullest while it criticizes, looks down on and abandons Jews to their enemies. (Or as it listens to Jews who look down on Jews.)
Being loyal to and appreciative of Jews has always benefited Gentiles. Jews are humble enough and pleased to help; especially when you stop rejecting and attacking them.
- Substitute Most Leisure Time by Up-time for Progress
As I mentioned above, the fight for Jewish values for the world is not over. Jews and Gentiles need more Jewish light. Keep up the fight! G^d (if you don’t go by G^d read: History) is on our side!
Which means that we are not getting the most out of life if we just overwork and cater to our needs (and those of “our” family). That the world needs us to improve ourselves and then the whole world.
That must be the death knell of consumerism and the entertainment industry. Killing time is not an option for people who are on a mission!