Friday, February 22, 2013

Or LaYehudim: Why a Lunch & Learn Program For Great Neck North High School Students Violates Jewish and American Principles - Tetzaveh 5773


In the spirit of Purim, a story:

Once upon a time a powerful Emperor of the Rising Sun advertised for a new Chief Samurai. After a year, only three applied for the job: a Japanese, a Chinese and a Jewish Samurai.

"Demonstrate your skills!" commanded the Emperor.

The Japanese samurai stepped forward, opened a tiny box and released a fly. He drew his samurai sword and *Swish!* the fly fell to the floor, neatly divided in two!

"What a feat!" said the Emperor. "Number Two Samurai, show me what you do."

The Chinese samurai smiled confidently, stepped forward and opened a tiny box, releasing a fly. He drew his samurai sword and * Swish! * Swish! * The fly fell to the floor neatly quartered.

"That is skill!" nodded the Emperor. "How are you going to top that, Number three Samurai?"

The Jewish samurai, Obi-wan Cohen, stepped forward, opened a tiny box releasing one fly, drew his samurai sword and *Swoooooosh! * flourished his sword so mightily that a gust of wind blew through the room.

But the fly was still buzzing around!

In disappointment, the Emperor said, "What kind of skill is that? The fly isn't even dead."

"Dead?!" replied the Jewish Samurai. "Dead is easy. Circumcision... THAT takes skill!"

***

We trade in symbols. It is through outward appearances - how we dress, where we shop, where we go to synagogue, whether or not we are still buzzing around - that we are most readily judged. Symbols are shortcuts - they are the means by which we most readily understand and focus life. They help us see what we cannot easily see.

Q: What is the most well-known symbol of Jewish life?
A: The Magen David, the star / shield of David.

Q: What should it be?
A: The Ner Tamid / Eternal Light.