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Historic?

Friday, 18 November, 2016 - 11:21 am

Supermoon in Rogers.jpgI was driving to Fayetteville early Monday evening, taking back a U of A student who came up to Bentonville to help a mourner say Kaddish at evening prayers. The sky was clear and the “historic” Supermoon was shining brightly over Walton Blvd. We were in middle of determining whether it truly looked larger than usual as suggested by everyone on the news and social media, when he breaks out in laughter and shows me a text message he had just received from his mother in South America: Tonight is supermoon. You must go out and watch it (I don’t read Spanish but I do trust his translation).

We’re obsessed with ‘historics’. We love to be part of or witness a historic moment. In the last few weeks we had a historic supermoon, a historic election and a historic sports championship; we have historic interest rates and historic real estate values; and the list goes on and on.

I define historic as something which alters the course of history – positively or otherwise – permanently and irreversibly. I think of events like the giving of the Torahat Sinai, an event that changed the face of humanity forever, as historic; something we and the world at large still speak about 3,300 years later.  I’m willing to consider the founding of the USA and some other events – positive or negative – that have truly lasting ramifications, as historic. But historic events happen once in a century, perhaps; not once a week. Most, if not all, of what we define as historic is merely a slightly louder version of politics, economics, sports or even astronomy as usual. Sooner or later they’re all meaningless.

So why are we so obsessed with histroics? What drives the human being to label any event that is slightly out of the ordinary as historic?

A few months ago there was a historic Powerball Jackpot. Everyone that had a spare dollar that week, purchased a lottery ticket. On one of my Whatsapp groups someone made the following observation: When it comes to texting and driving, we’re all convinced that an accident ‘won’t happen to me’ despite the huge odds of it happening; yet when it comes to the 1 in a billion (or so) chance of winning the lottery, we’re all convinced it’s going to happening to me. Why?

I believe the answer is the same. We’re all pre-programmed by G-d with the will and ability to do something historic. We naturally thirst for that moment. It is only because of the confusion that the ambiguous world we live in presents that we are searching in the wrong places to make history.

 G-d created the world with a plan. That plan is being executed every time a Jew does another mitzvah, adding holiness to the world and bringing Moshiach one step closer. There is a single solitary deed that is going to tip the scale and be the final deed to make it happen. Who is going to do that last one? G-d left that for us; one of us will perform the final Mitzvah and do something truly historic. It can be you!

In the words of the Rambam: a person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If he performs one sin, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of guilt and brings destruction upon himself. [On the other hand,] if he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others.

So instead of looking to witness or make history in politics, economics or sports -- look in the right place: Yourself. Do a mitzvah NOW and tip the scale. It will be truly historic.

Gut Shabbos,

Rabbi Mendel Greisman

 

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