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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Heroism -- Not As Easy As It Looked!

Yes, People, today marks the end of what is known as Holy Week for some, and the transition from the festival days of Passover to the intermediate days of Passover -- I'll explain that concept another time.

MOSES.

This week we celebrate major festivals in two different faiths that both concern men who were called upon to be heroes for different reasons.  The Passover story recounts how Moses, an Egyptian nobleman, learned of his Hebrew lineage, aligned himself with his enslaved countrymen, and led their miraculous escape from slavery. He was, at best, a reluctant leader - the rabbinical commentaries said that he was so uncomfortable with public speaking that Aaron had to "interpret" for him when he demanded that Pharaoh "let my people go."  Not all studly and forceful like Charlton Heston played him, he never volunteered for this gig.  Rather, he was chosen to be the leader and to bring G-D's message of deliverance and freedom.

And this business of freedom proved to make him an unpopular leader.  Once the Jews made it across the Red Sea, the complaint department was open for business 24/7.  People thought that Moses had brought them out of Egypt to die, they questioned where this Promised Land actually was, and they started remarking that the Egyptians, brutal as they were, at least fed them (no kidding they fed you -- to paraphrase Boba Fett, unfed slaves were no good to the Egyptians!)

This lack of popularity eventually got under his skin, so that he lost his temper on two significant occasions:  First, when he came down from Sinai with the Tablets in his hand, what did he see?  His own people decided it would be a lot more fun to worship a golden idol and hold a bacchanalian shindig than to wait for him to deliver some high-handed laws.  So he chucked those sacred Tablets at them, went off on them royally, and declared them unworthy.  Eventually, the Tablets were replaced from on high, the golden calf was smelted down, and those responsible paid the price, but Big Moe showed the people that he had his limits.

On the second occasion, he got tired of the people asking for water from the rock, which could have been delivered merely by speaking to it.  But he was in such a foul mood that day that he struck it hard out of frustration, against the commandment to merely ask for the water from the rock.  This time, he paid a hefty price:  all those complaining Hebrews were going to cross the river into Canaan and build their own country, but he wouldn't be joining them.

These two isolated incidents smudged his otherwise legendary status.  Although it was he who brought G-D's word to Israel, he was all too human in his reactions to the complaints and capriciousness of a brand new nation.  Had he only learned that it's not possible to change the way people act or think, even if they are delivered with Commandments from G-D, his record could have been perfect.  The simple truth is, that some people will complain and judge and gossip even when faced with direct and irrefutable proof of a Higher Power.  The only One who can change them is G-D himself, not you.  Had he simply understood that (a) some people flocked to the calf because they were not ready for G-D, no matter what miracles they'd seen; and that (b) people will demand water even if it's there for the taking, he may have been able to enjoy the rewards of his hard work, and actually entered what is now Israel.  However, he would settle for the fact that he brought Israel, a great and mighty nation, out of misery and bondage to build its own kingdom and Temple, which was clearly enough of an accomplishment in and of itself.

JESUS.

The Easter story tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  A carpenter was called upon to fulfill his role as a Chosen Savior predicted by prophecy, and he went about it the best way he knew how.  He preached what he knew was true, and taught others how they could receive the Kingdom of Heaven.  In doing so, he risked great peril from many sources.  While those who agreed with him saw him as a leader, a prophet, and a source of comfort and faith, others called him a fraud and an enemy.  Had he been around today, there might have been a large amount of friends and advisers with good intentions who would have tried to limit what he said, where he said it, and to whom he said it, just to protect him.  If there were such advisers around him then, he apparently chose to take those risks instead of seeking safety.

Ultimately, his enemies brought an end to his earthly existence in spite of the good he did.  However, the Gospels state that he still triumphed over them when he rose from the grave.  His words would eventually be accepted by most of known world.  Nevertheless, the end to his life on earth was a painful and tragic one.

His example, not unlike Moses, was a reminder of perseverance in the face of adversity and unpopular sentiment.  Both men stuck to their convictions, no matter how hated or reviled their positions made them.   Both men have long since been venerated for what they accomplished -- one brought a nation of slaves to freedom and liberty, the other preached salvation and redemption to all people.  They both succeeded, but both their successes came at heavy costs.

So let's take the examples from both men:  (1) Are you angry at people who just don't get your message?  Let them not get it, because that's not your problem.  Staying angry at those who just don't feel like listening will only drag you down to their level.  (2) Are you brave enough to deliver your message even if it's unpopular and others may threaten you?  Don't be afraid of them.  However, if there's a personal safety, life-and-death issue, be careful.  Dying for a cause is noble, but living for your cause is even better.  As long as nobody's being put in danger, and your adversaries at least respect your right to live and speak your truth, don't hold back.

Hope you enjoyed your holidays, all, and have a happy Monday!

DISCLAIMER:  The above blog entry was not intended to malign, besmirch, impugn, or condemn any religious practices, creeds, or beliefs.  Any offense experienced by the reader of this message is entirely the responsibility of that reader, and not its author.