May 8, 2017, Jerusalem, Israel
I find myself walking today in an ultra orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem. Instantly I feel a change, in myself. We are influenced by our environment, long term and even in the short term.
When see signs advertising new cars, for example, we tend to think; I want that car, I need that car, I need to earn more money, I want to be successful. Perhaps we think that a new car will attract more women or "higher caliber" friends or clients.
Jerusalem, you need that newest Mazda NOW.
As I was walking along the first thing I noticed were the women. Most had children. All were dressed very modestly and very conservatively. This is the style here and the law. This alone already changes the atmosphere, it is one of modesty, humility, spirituality. The men were equally modest in simple black and white clothing.
But the aspect that had the most immediate impact on me were the signs. The ultra orthodox has a tradition of street posters. They announce decisions of rabbis, important gatherings, lessons for the public and deaths and mourning periods. They have a style all their own.
The words are colorful and dramatic. The great rabbi, the renowned genius known for his brilliance and mastery of the Talmud and Jewish law will be given a guest lecture.
or, with great sadness and broken hearts we announce the passing of the holy rabbi, known for his righteousness. He was a brilliant scholar with many students. He composed books of Jewish law and taught many students. He was a master of the entire Talmud and the mystical works.
Suddenly, without even being aware of the change, my heart turned towards my dream of being a scholar. Suddenly I felt why am I wasting so much time going to the tax offices trying to get some refund. I could be studying the holy books!! I could be reading the words of the rabbis. I want to be a scholar!
Wow, it hit me. This wall posters woke me up. Suddenly money no longer seemed to matter. Among the pious money is seen strictly as a means to an end, and "God always provides".
I felt a change take place.
The poster reads...Memorial service. At the end of the seven days of mourning for the passing of our dear and beloved father, who was a scholar, a student of the holy books, a pure and innocent man, a righteous man who worshiped God with great devotion. A man who walk with God in pleasantness and always followed the proper path, established many students to study the holy torah, .... a generation of righteous people on the proper path to love God and His Torah....the master of the mystical works, the rabbi, the genius....
If you grow up in a neighborhood where gangsters are honored, you will see kids imitating these gangsters, dressing like them and soon pursuing "careers" like them.
If you grow up in a neighborhood where performers and showmen and movie stars are idolized you will grow up wanting to be like them. You will imitate their style and buy whatever they tell you to buy.
If the young and financially successful are idolized by the old, religious and pious are mocked, who will you most likely follow?
But if you grow up in Jerusalem, or in any traditional Jewish environment the thirst for knowledge, wisdom and truth will be your goal. You will see that those who have wisdom are revered, and those that have money are only the "fuel", they donate their money to support the scholars, to be near the holiness of the scholars, to touch the glory.
How fortunate are those who value knowledge and wisdom above all. On every book my grandfather gave us, he had a sticker.
"If you posses knowledge, what do you lack?
If you lack knowledge, what do you possess?"
Think about it.
A religious academy - The Treasure of Jerusalem. A place to study Torah. To this community the greatest treasure is the knowledge of the Torah.