Ten Commandments – Good News, Bad News

Ten Commandments - Good News, Bad News

This was a funny joke told over in the Wall Street Journal today:

When Moses was coming down from Har Sinai, he said to the people of Israel, “I have good news and bad news.”

“The good news is I kept him down to ten.”

“The bad news is adultery stays!”

Aside from the joke, the editorial posited why there are so many Jewish comedians–from Jackie Mason to Joan Rivers, and from Jack Benny to Jerry Seinfeld?

But maybe it should’ve asked, why do all the Jewish Comedians names seem to start with a J.

Thinking this through a little more, I realized so many other Jewish comedians out there–Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Billy Crystal, Chelsea Handler, Gene Wilder, George Burns, Jack Black, Larry Fine (from the Three Stooges), Mel Brooks, Rodney Dangerfield, Seth Rogen, The Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, and so many more.

So what is it that makes the Jewish people so funny?

Ms. Wisse, the author postulates that maybe it has to do with the dichotomy of the Jewish people being historically chosen to receive the Torah and hopefully serve as good examples of G-d’s law and morality while at the same time “being targeted by some of the world’s most determined aggressors”–Oy vey! and this list is even longer than that of the comedians!

So as Ms. Wisse points out, the Jewish people are on one hand “exalted” by G-d, but attacked by the wicked among nations.

I guess that would give just about anybody a severe complex–where do I find this one in the DSM?

Up, down, rewarded, punished, chosen, reviled–can make anyone’s head spin–maybe that is why we wear Kippot (head coverings)–I was always taught it was to remember that G-d is above us and always watching and guiding us, but maybe it’s also to help us keep our heads on straight with all the mixed messages we get in the world.

People mistake what “chosen” means–they think maybe Jews think they’re better than others, but this is a mischaracterization.

I learned in Yeshiva–that chosen means we have a great burden to bear in fulfilling G-d commandments–when we do it well, things are good, but when we fail, we learn the hard way.

It’s good to be Jewish–and it would be even better, if Jews accepted themselves and each other.

None of us are perfect–some of us are more imperfect than others.

But we are still brothers and sisters.

There is a Torah, but even the most righteous among us, don’t do everything right–is anyone free from sin?

I always believed that religion is our guidepost, but as we are taught “every person is a world unto themselves” and that there is room for all of us to serve Hashem.

We each have to find the spark within and fulfill Hashem’s destiny that he has for each of us–we all have what we can give and we should do it with a pure heart. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Home Videos)

Poisons Anonymous

Tikun_olam

One of the Buddhist teachings is that there are 3 poisons in this world: greed, anger, and ignorance.

But that by turning these poisons around into generosity, compassion, and wisdom,we can create life-healing.

While this is sort of simplistic, it does point to a number of important things:

1) We can have an impact on our destiny. We can choose our direction and work towards something that is good or we can fall harmfully into some bad and destructive ways.

2) Everything has an antidote. While we may not know the antidote at the time, generally everything has its corollary or opposite and we can find healing by moving towards that.

3) The answers in life are not so far away. How much of a stretch is it to turned a clenched fist into an open hand or to quench ignorance with learning–these things are doable.

If we look at people and events at face value, it is easy as times to get angry and feel hatred at the corruption and injustices out there–but I believe, the key is to channel those feeling into something positive–into change and Tikkun Olam–“fixing the world”.

By channeling our feelings into constructive actions, then we are changing not just ourselves, but can have a broader influence–one deed at a time.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Satisfy or Suffice

Enlightenment

How many of you feel satisfied or are you left still somehow yearning and hungry?

Living in a time and place where materialism is a competitive and daily fact of life for–high paying jobs, big houses, fast cars, Ivy league educations, exotic vacations, fashion and jewelry “statements”, elegant restaurants, and lavish parties, –it is philiosophically and practical to ask satisfy or suffice.

If we live our lives to satisfy ourselves–then we tend to a society driven by one word, and one word only–“more!”  
Our appetites for material things that satisfy our senses are like a bottomless pit–to see beauty, to feel comfortable, to taste delight, to hear endless praise and envy over what we have achieved and accomplished in life–can these cravings ever really be satisfied?
With satisfaction, one of the key issues is that no matter how much we have accumulated or attained, it irks us to no end, if someone else has just a fraction more.  This is called relative deprivation–we have everything we need, but we still feel short-changed because someone else has more. It’s infinitely hard to be satisfied knowing that, because somehow we have failed…someone else is better off materially, and our interpretation often is that they are better innately than us and thus have gone further than we can or maybe deserve more on a spiritual level–either way another’s abundance, regardless of your own successes, can still mean you are a loser!
It’s funny, coming off the Metro and watching the mobs disembark from the train and race up the escalators, even when there are not a lot of people there…first one to the top is the winner; everyone else shlumps off somehow defeated afterward.  G-d, this has become a sick society–what difference does the 2.347 seconds make?
Educationally, collecting degrees and certifications has become another hobby for many, so that if you don’t have alphabet soup before and after your name, your frowned upon as just another ignoramus out there–as if the degree makes the person.
Another example, yesterday I heard that when getting engaged/married, the chic is that it is no longer enough to give a diamond ring to the young lady, now a matching bracelet is also part of the grand bargain or else you are not “keeping up with the Jones.”
The examples go on and we can all tell them from our specific lives of the endless rat races that we endure to try and not only make ends meet, but also to compete and avoid “the shame.”
So what’s the alternative?
Instead of trying to be satisfied, we can learn to suffice–to be happy with what we are blessed with. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to do your best in life, you do!  But rather, you work hard and invest a reasonable amount of time, effort, money to achieve a goal and then you go on without beating yourself up over what you haven’t achieved.
In short, happiness is in saying enough (or like on Passover, Dayenu!).
To suffice, part of it is learning to differentiate between what is really important and what is, in the end, trivial. How important is it that you get the NEXT whatever in your life versus can you be more innately happy spending time doing things you enjoy with the people you really love.
Suffice–learn to balance the demands and needs of your life–grow beyond the mundane; the true test of life is with you yourself–achieving your potential–not how you do relative to others.
An article in Wired (November 2011) talks to this when it asks about going out and finding a soulmate, “Do you keep searching and hope something better will come along, or do you stop searching when you find something looks pretty good?”
This article, whether addressing the many commitment phoebes out there, or those just having a hard time finding Mr./Mrs. Right–whether in terms of accepting and living with others’ flaws or just learning to stop looking for someone prettier, smarter, more successful etc.
Wired suggests developing a baseline by dating “roughly” 12 people so that you can make an informed decision of the head and heart, but this can apply to education, career, home and all areas of your life–seek what is best for you, but also realize that we are all imperfect mortals and that only the heaven is for angels.
Suffice–do your very best in life and accept yourself for who you are and meet your destiny head-on–you can achieve happiness beyond the mere materialism and superficiality that cloud our societal judgements–this to me is enlightenment.
(Source Photo: here)