March 17, 2021, Israel
The messiah, The Great Redeemer. The Messiah Complex, and the faithful believers. Some believe in a Messiah, some do not. Some believe he has already come and will return again, some believe he has yet to come and we must wait patiently before taking any action. When I was a young rabbinical student an old Yemenite man asked me what I was doing with my life. I responded I was studying the Holy Scriptures full time and bringing the Messiah. He leaned over close, and looked me in the eyes, the Messiah is already here, it is you and I, as his fingers pointed to my eyes and his.
Food for thought.
A Crazy man in London's Hyde Park was preaching the faith, a crowd of people turned away. My brother stayed and listened. The man turned to his lone listener and said, the Messiah is coming, we must repent! my brother turned back to him and said, I know, and in fact he is coming very soon. The man was taken aback, someone was taking him seriously. Really?, he said, how do you know? my brother responded, It is me, I am going to reveal myself tomorrow. Shh, keep it a secret.
The man was stunned.
Homer Simpson believed he was the Messiah, Adolf Hitler believed he was the Messiah and millions of Germans needed a Messiah so they followed him. John Lennon said, We need a Daddy figure, so we go the Daddy Pond and choose the best, the tallest, the most handsome Daddy. We proclaim him Daddy. And soon we are disappointed, so we throw tomatoes at him and say, "Bad Daddy, you have disappointed us." Two Jewish teenagers in Cleveland created their own Messiah in the form of Superman.
As much as the Messiah wants to lead, the flock wants to be led. The masses want simple slogans that are easy to understand, Fatherland, Ubermenschen, Redemption! Za Rudinu za Stalina! (for the motherland, for Stalin; World War Two slogan)
Monty Python in Life of Brian, made an excellent parody of the concept of a Messiah. Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, you can, and should, laugh at yourself a little. The bottom line here is we yearn for someone to solve all our problems, without involving us or inconveniencing us in any great way.
As Jews, we are somewhat divided on the concept of Redemption and the Messiah, but that is a discussion for a different place. What we agree on is that one is born to work, to strive, to improve, to make a difference and to take responsibility for himself and the world as a whole. We are not meant to wait for ever. As the old Yemenite said...It is you and me, now! Let's do it.
The danger in this Messianic way of thought is twofold; it brings dangerous men to power and it absolves us of our responsibility, of working towards finding solutions and bettering our lives. Why work hard when someone else is coming to save us?
Life of Brian satirises the human nature to believe in a savior, a force that will exempt us from active duty. The film is not anti faith or religion, but anti blind following and placing the burden of redemption, salvation on someone else. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, while of course a great believer, spoke of Gadlus ha adam, the greatness, or loftiness, of man, i.e. man's ability to achieve great things. In Life of Brian, Brian of Nazareth sends away the crowd, but they mistake his behavior as not wanting to share with them the secret to eternal life. They follow him everywhere because they have a need to submit to authority, to hand over responsibility to someone else. The crowd declarers him first a prophet and later the Messiah! Brian turns them away explaining that they don't need him to receive God's blessings. He says, "Look, you've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've' got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!"
Blind following is dangerous. The Talmud points out the benefit of discussion, disagreements and debates, even arguments. In Tractate Sabbath page 113 it says, "Shall the Tradition be nothing more than a song that is repeated?"
No, it must be debated in every generation, re-understood and defined. We must take an active part, in everything. And this is what Krav Maga is all about, taking an active part in your own redemption. It baffles me how people are still looking for the Messiah to defend them. It is the presidents' fault that a woman was stabbed to death. Blame the police, march on Washington, or Jerusalem, demanding an end to violence. But wait, why not march to the dojo, the training hall. Krav Maga is being offered, self-defense lessons are being offered. This is your personal liberation movement, as Bruce Lee called it back in the 1960s'.
We are looking for a hero to deliver us from our enemies, but what about us? Where is our freedom and independence? We are all individuals, we have freedom of choice. Why do we choose to hand over our personal protection to others?
The endless melody, waiting for the Messiah.
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