May 12, 2019, Israel
We are told this life is not easy. We are told by our sages that those who were not born are better off. As we study in the book of Genesis a man was born for hardship.
We have to be tough to survive. The question is what kind of tough? There is the quiet toughness of those who toil daily, raise children, work hard and never seek the spotlight. And then there is gangster tough.
The young immigrant boy in the 1930's might admire the gangster. He wears a tailored suit, smokes expensive cigars and rides in fancy cars. On the other hand his own dad looks not so tough, getting up early every morning, working hard and not seeming to get very far.
But not all is at it seems. We are confused as to who is truly tough, and who is wise.
A group of new recruits enter the prison. They are all tough guys, they are street smart, they are all gang members and bad ass. The warden speaks to them and says, There are no tough guys here. When you came in here we told you to strip naked, and you stripped naked. You obeyed. You are not a tough guy. You are here because society rejected you, now listen to me and wisen up.
That is telling it like it is. We need to understand that this false image of toughness is a path to trouble. No matter how tough you think you are there will always be someone tougher. If you are world champion today you must know there is some kid out there training to beat the crap out of you, and he will. Better to be humble before someone else needs to humble you. As the Talmud teaches, we all come from a smelly sperm and in the end we will all be lying in dirt. So what is a man? A man is judged by his spirit, by his character, by his deeds.
As they say in the world of organized crime, when the tough guys are caught they sing like canaries, i.e. they trade in their friends, family and colleagues for a lighter sentence.
All we have is our human spirit.