Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting used to things

Just a quick perusal of the headlines on any given day, a staggering number of headlines about Jews and Israel are seen. We all know the phenomenon, but we're used to it. Getting used to things has a numbing effect on our minds. Only when things quickly depart from what we're used to, we say 'hey, what's going on here?'.

Today's news about Israel, durban, ahmedinejad's speech, etc. are something we're used to. It's something we've all come to expect from the world. The shock that should come at a tiny nation's constant position in the limelight is nothing new for us. A people whose number is so small, we should expect to be in the news once or twice a year at most, winds up being mentioned numerous times a day -- and is commonly the feature article.

I'm not saying anything new, this is all known to us already. What I am discussing is our numbness to it. When things happen slowly, we tend to not realize. As the old saying goes 'a watched pot never boils', because the effects are so slow nobody realizes. As we see the blossoming spring outside, it is exactly the same. We don't notice the tiny activity on the tree until it's a big bright-colored green or pink. Maybe that is why Hashem precisely asks of us to say "Birkat HaIlanot" at this time of year. He wants us to notice the new blossoms, but more precisely to pay attention and ask ourselves, 'when/how did this happen?'.

We were taken out of Egypt in Nisan. I quoted an article by Rabbi Avigdor Miller (whose Yahrtzeit is today) several weeks ago discussing how Hashem purposely took us out during the spring-time to increase our joy and happiness - something that we need to still thank Him for even though we would have gladly come out in the rain.

We pray thrice daily 'Et Tzemach David Avdecha Mehera Tatzmiach" - the seed of David Your servant - please make sprout quickly. Our Rabbis explain that the Geula is exactly that, a sprouting. It's hardly noticed. It slowly creeps out of the ground at a rate that the subtle changes are not realized. Nobody pays attention, since it basically looks the same as yesterday. But before long, it is fully grown and blossoming.

We're living it today. It has begun blossoming. We're just too used to it to realize it. If we take a step back and look at the overall picture, it suddenly becomes clear to us. But to everyone who is not paying attention it will come as a complete shock - where did this come from? That's what I think it means when our Rabbis tell us that Mashiach will only come when we are not paying attention (HeSeach HaDaat). Let's learn from Birkat HaIlanot - and be aware of what's transpiring under the surface.

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