Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Now: It's Good to be a Jew

Tonight I had the great pleasure of hearing Rabbi Joseph Telushkin speak at a local temple. Rabbi Telushkin has written a number of books on everything from Jewish Humor to the Rebbe. This particular presentation was about the Rebbe(Read the linked page if you have no idea who I'm talking about), and I think he highlighted three things that are really crucial to Jewish life even outside of Chabad.

Firstly, the first part of the title of this post: Anything worth doing is worth doing now. Every day, we have a different excuse for why we can't make that phone call or send that email or write that paper; you get the point. But then days go by, and then weeks, and then months, and eventually, it's all about "just getting through this week" because next week will be easier when in reality the same things that were stressing you out last week will stress you out next week. Until we accept this fact, we will continue to be waiting for tomorrow instead of making the best of today.

Second, and I think more importantly, Rabbi Telushkin told a story about a few Chabad men who went to a small town in Alaska, and they met a girl who was most likely never going to meet another rabbi in her life, and then asked the rabbi to tell her one thing about Judaism that she needed to know rabbi said something about women lighting Shabbat candles, but something different popped into my head. Two words: we survived. Over and over again, the world has tried to defeat the Jewish people, but still, today, we persist. We may be small in numbers, but we are still very much alive. This is both something to be proud of and something to be grateful for. We are still here. And it's good to be a jew.

Lastly, Rabbi Telushkin discussed the Rebbe's philosophy of unconditional love among Jews. I would go as far to extend this to all people. The focus on the individual that the Rebbe discussed is very important for us to keep in mind today. Especially in the presidential election season, we tend to throw around broad terms like "liberals" or "conservatives," and we lose sight of the fact that actual individual human beings make up these vague terms that we are using to describe people. Ultimately, the truth resists simplicity, no matter how many campaign ads or angry Facebook posts you make.

As a disclaimer, I must say this: I don't agree with Chabad on a whole lot of things. I think a lot of their practices are anti-feminist, but as I just said, Chabad is not just one thing; it contains multitudes, and ignoring that complexity is ignoring a large amount of spiritual teachings that could be helpful to me.

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