Friday, October 28, 2011

Merkel, Sarkozy: why don’t you call me for some advice?

If the leaders of the eurozone can’t agree a foolproof plan to solve the economic crisis, I certainly can’t offer much guidance. One thing is clear, much time and effort; energy and resource are required to stabilise and revitalise the world economy. Many minds are used and brains are squeezed. There is a very comical Israeli movie called Hagigah b’Snooker about twin brothers, Azriel and Gavriel. Azriel is a shy, religious Jew and Gavriel a thug and good-for-nothing hustler who runs a Snooker Bar with a guy called Hanukah. They offer a blank cheque to anyone that beats them at snooker but win every game. One day, a mafia guy called Salvador wins a game and when the cheque bounces things get ugly. Gavriel must sell his apartment but his father’s will forbids him from selling it until his twin Azriel marries. Gavriel convinces Hanukah to become Rabbi Chanukah Ben Moshe Halevi, the matchmaker, to match Azriel with the Rabbi’s daughter while Salvador wants the Rabbi’s daughter for his nephew Moshon. The story goes on. Later on, the Rabbi, who loves to quote passages from the Torah, speaks of his daughter’s new found love and with a smiley face he exclaims: Mayim Rabim Lo Yuchlu Lechabot et ahava, uneharot lo yishtefuha, quoting a verse from Song of
Songs: “Many waters would not be able to quench love, and rivers would not drown it”. Chassidic philosophy brings a deeper more significant insight to this verse, which may shed some light on how to prevent economic breakdown. The phrase “many waters” is a reference to the waters of Noah that symbolise all one’s struggles to earn a livelihood and preoccupation with worldly concerns. These can indeed seem overwhelming and, as anyone who works for a living knows, can sometimes make a person feel they are “drowning” (G-d forbid). The soul, however, originated in Heaven, where it was unburdened by the distractions of this physical world. One may then wonder why the soul had to come down to this sorry realm at all? Would it not have been better off to remain where it was? The answer: just as a person sometimes reveals hidden strengths when confronted with adversity, G-d saw fit to send the soul into this material world so that, by overcoming the challenges posed here, it would develop spiritually to a far greater extent than would have been possible otherwise. Against this background, the verse in Song of Songs reassures us that we have a real “fighting chance”: even the seemingly overwhelming floodwaters of this world and its material concerns cannot extinguish our strengths and what makes us who we are. On the contrary, through the struggles of worldly life, we can reach even greater heights.

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