By Shmuel Sackett
Life is very complicated and extremely busy. Even with all the modern gadgets that are supposed to save us time, adults today have less free time than their primitive, non-Facebook, rotary-telephone-using parents. On the positive side, we have Tablets (though not the ones that Moses had…) and Apples (though not the ones that Adam and Eve ate…). We get to our destination very quickly thanks to a GPS and find things super quickly thanks to Google. We type reports amazingly fast on laptops and cook dinners in minutes with the latest microwave ovens. Yet with all these “positives” there are many “negatives” because despite these time-saving devices, we spend less time with our spouse and kids and find it very difficult to focus our energy on Torah study. We are grossing nice salaries yet we’re broke and our vacations become pressure-cooking situations because we spend money we don’t have to go to places we don’t enjoy!
Why do we do all this? What’s the motivating factor for running around chasing our tail? People have told me that it’s the famous syndrome of “Keeping up with the Joneses’” (or in the Jewish world: “Keeping up with the Cohens!”) but I refuse to believe that. Another opinion is that experts tell us how we are stuck in a routine which we simply can’t get out of. I once heard that the word “routine” has the word “rut” inside it. Therefore, it’s the rut of being in the routine. While this sounds nice (I give an extra 2 points to the clever guy who thought of it), I disagree with this conclusion as well.
Dearest friends, I urge you to get to the root of the problem. Don’t blame it on the Cohens and don’t play the rut/routine word game. That’s not the reason why you are running around in circles all day/week/year long. Allow me to tell you what I think it is. You are not dreaming correctly. Get your dreams in order and a different life will quickly follow.
This problem of dreams was made famous about 100 years ago by the great Chassidic master, Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa. He was one of the leaders of Chassidut in Poland and he raised a serious question. One of the main reasons for existence is because of the Chessed (kindness) we do for one another. The verse in Tehillim (89:3) states; “Olam Chessed Yi’Baneh” (“The world is built on kindness”). But the Rebbe Reb Bunim asked a simple, yet very perplexing question: If it’s true – which it is – that the world needs kindness in order to exist, what acts of Chessed were done in the 40 years the Jews spent in the desert? We have learned that those 40 years were a perfect life; the food was perfect, the clothing grew by itself and people didn’t even need to go to the bathroom! There was nothing lacking… so the Rebbe asked; “If nothing was lacking, if nobody needed help, where was the chessed? And if there was no chessed… the world could not exist… and yet it did. How was that possible?” His conclusion was that there was chessed and his explanation of what that chessed was, will change your life forever!
The Rebbe explained that when our fathers and mothers left Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert, they ate the magical food called “Mahn”. The mahn tasted like anything you were thinking about and was sugar free, fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free and cost free! All you needed to do was pick up a specific amount in the morning and finish it by the evening. Before eating, you would simply “think”. Want a rib steak? Think about one! How about some sushi? No problem – put your thinking cap on. Pizza with extra toppings and stuffed crust? Yummy… just think.
While we learned this back in the 3rd grade, the Rebbe Reb Bunim pointed out something incredible. The overwhelming majority of Jews who left Egypt simply could not enjoy their mahn and do you know why? Because even though they were free, they were still thinking – and dreaming – like slaves. A slave does not dream about rib steaks, sushi or fancy pizza. He dreams of crackers, toast and potatoes. Therefore, Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa said that the chessed we did in the desert was to help each other dream properly! Those who were able to shed the yoke of slavery from their minds helped those who were free physically – but still enslaved mentally. In short, millions of Jews were dreaming incorrectly.
Fast forward 3,300 years: Slavery is long gone, the Jews are out of the shtetlt and things have never been better… yet look to your right and left – do you see happy Jews around you? Trust me that it’s not because of “The Cohen’s” or “Rut/Routine”… it’s because all those holy Yidden are simply not dreaming properly.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this one simple question: Do you dream about living your life in Israel? I understand why you don’t live there now, but do you at least dream about it? You should! Every Jew for 2,000 years dreamt about living in Israel. They may not have made it there, but not a day went by when they didn’t dream about it, pray for it to happen and cry as each day ended without the dream being fulfilled.
I’m not asking why you’re not already packed and driving to the airport. I’m not even asking why you haven’t opened a file with Nefesh b’Nefesh. I’m asking far more basic: Are you even dreaming about it?
Don’t make the same mistake the generation did in the desert. Don’t dream about bread and jam when you can be dreaming about roast duck… and don’t dream about raising your children in America when you can be dreaming about raising them in Yerushalayim!
In conclusion, don’t just live as a Jew… dream as a Jew… and make sure those dreams are the same ones that millions of Jews before you dreamt about; living, breathing and working in the Land promised to us by Hashem Himself and given to us as our eternal inheritance. May all those dreams come true!