What Would Rabbi Noah Weinberg Say?
For our turbulent times, a voice from above.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, we can all agree that the world, and more so, the USA, is in turmoil. The devastating pandemic and governmental upheaval dominate our daily lives and confound our thinking.
Where do we turn? Who can offer direction? Perspective? Solace?
Had we been in this maelstrom of mayhem and chaos some years ago, many of us would have turned to our mentor and spiritual guide, Rabbi Noah Weinberg o.b.m. His inimitable and erudite persona soothed and guided hundreds of thousands of Jews of every walk of life, during times of trouble and confusion.
What would he say to us today? Would he offer any wisdom that might make a difference in how we navigate these stormy waters of life in 2021?
I imagine he would.
I watch from Above with a mixture of pain, anguish, and frustration. So I am pleased that you reached out to ask for my opinions, my points of view, and my help. (That’s the way it works up here. We cannot offer our assistance unless it is requested.)
Forgive me for being blunt (that hasn’t changed), but the world’s response to this Corona thing was way off the mark. The Almighty has a plan and a purpose to everything He brings. There are no coincidences in life. I always reminded you that He loves you more than you can ever imagine. Therefore, as much you suffer from this deadly plague, He actually “suffers” more. Is it a wake up call? Of course it is. No one likes to hear that. But his punishments are not vindictive, they are instructive. Big difference.
So here’s the problem. He sent Corona. Many people died. It was tragic. I’m not getting into the mask thing or the lockdowns. That’s for you guys to work out. But it was supposed to wake people up to change. To be different. To be better. Better friends. Better spouses. Better parents. Better Jews. Better people! How many people do you know that have really changed in the past 10 months?
Remember what I taught you:
Every day, set aside time to ask these questions:
- What am I living for?
- Review your day and ask: What do I need to change?
- What am I going to do about it?
Watch. When enough people start changing, the disease will vanish.
Now, I know you are convinced that the world has gone insane. Looking down on the events of this past year or so, which I have done, makes it hard for me to argue with that. But I have always said the battle for life is the battle for sanity. To a certain extent, we are all crazy. But if you are aware of it you prevent the insanity from taking over.
Which brings me to another vital point. With all the daily drama you encounter, you’ve become news junkies – addicted to your phones and devices. Most of it is a waste of your precious brain cells. Need I remind you that killing time is like committing suicide on the installment plan. Imagine if you used that time to better understand yourself, your purpose, and the meaning of your life. If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know anything. Now that is a worthwhile investment.
I recall from the temporary world that I used to inhabit that a lot of people wanted to understand themselves better but didn’t know how to do it. You know my answer for that. Torah. That’s where the wisdom is. That’s how to fight ignorance.
The most virulent disease in the world is ignorance.
The most virulent disease in the world is ignorance. Ignorance can kill you.
It spreads throughout entire societies and is extremely difficult to combat, especially since the victim is usually not aware he has been infected.
By following the guidelines that the Almighty gave us – in the Torah – we can fulfill our purpose in the world.
So stop the nonsense. Push out all the noise. Don’t constantly worry about who is President or Prime Minister or in the Cabinet. I guarantee you that the Almighty can handle that. Your job is to keep your eye on the ball. Got it?
Something else that concerns me is that many of you look around at the current state of affairs and respond by becoming despondent and pessimistic. Dare I say, a lot of people seem actually hopeless. There is something very wrong with that. My life down there was full of failures and disappointments. Before Aish, every organization and yeshiva that I started went nowhere. Had I given up, my legacy would have been zero.
Every human being has moments and even chapters in his life when he feels that he can’t go on. The fight is just not worth it. The burden is too great. Don’t be afraid of those thoughts and emotions. Use them to sharpen and refine your true purpose. Pick yourself up and out of the doldrums. Study. Accomplish. Communicate. Don’t be a spectator. Lead. And you need not be loud to lead. Many lead by example, by becoming great role models. Yes…even you can lead.
And finally, I need to remind you that you have a weapon in your arsenal that is potent, persuasive, and powerful – and under-utilized. It’s called Prayer. Prayer is the skeleton key that gives you entry to every door that seems shut or out of reach. Simultaneously, it soothes the soul and stirs the heavens. It orders your priorities and unlocks the portals of mercy, clarity, and blessing. It is an eloquent demonstration of your desire to establish a meaningful relationship with your Creator. And yet, so many squander or misuse this mighty opportunity.
There may be tough times ahead. As you know, Mashiach (the Messiah) beckons. Turmoil and societal disorder is likely to accompany his arrival. A few short minutes of daily, heartfelt prayer, in any language, can go a long way in helping you cope, discern, and affect change.
Life can be tough. But the Almighty put us here to access all the pleasures that He fashioned. The pain that so often comes is the currency we use to get maximum pleasure. Without that pain and effort, there is no meaning.
Be strong. Be wise. Count your blessings, but also make your blessings count.
In commemoration of the yahrzeit of Rabbi Noah Weinberg, zt"l, Shevat 11.