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The End Game
By Rabbi Yossi Marcus


Not at all. We’re the dreamers, dreaming that what we perceive is what is.

Let’s start from the end.

Most of us are resigned to the way things are in our world. Yes, we lament the suffering and decry the injustice, but we’re basically content to attend lectures and join committees and donate money to solve these problems without really believing that we will ever solve them for good.

“That’s just the way it is,” we sometimes find ourselves saying (or humming, as the case may be). It is hard for us to imagine anything different. We know only what we know and have known for thousands of years.

But what’s a couple of thousand years? So the world has been a certain way for thousands of years. So?

The great Masters have tunnel-vision—in a good way. They’ve read Genesis where it says that everything was good, and they’ve read Isaiah who says that everything will be good. And although we’ve read it too, they actually know it as the reality.

To most of us, the current state is the norm and anything different would be a magical utopian dream. To the Masters, as to G-d, the current state is an aberration. What preceded it and what will come after it is the norm.

That’s why, like King David, they’d get up at midnight and pray for the Divine Presence that is in Exile. They’d pray for the end of injustice in the world, for an end to human suffering. The famous Chafetz Chaim has a special suit in his closet—he was reserving it for any moment when the Moshiach would come.

Moses Maimonides wrote about the Moshiach and the time when there would be no hunger, no jealousy and no pain, a time when all peoples will know and serve G-d together.

Dreamers? Not at all. We’re the dreamers, dreaming that what we perceive is what is.

There is a story: A Jewish shepherd comes to the synagogue and he can’t read Hebrew. He’s holding the book upside down, but he’s watching the congregants as they pray and listening to the tunes, some happy some mournful. At one point the singing is so loud and happy he thinks, what are they so happy about? Must be the prayers are almost over and they’re excited to get back home and eat that delicious stew. But then they stop singing and they’re praying again. What happened? He figures it out. The longer the stew sits on the fire the better it will taste. So they’re waiting. And finally they sing again and they’re happy. This time they must be going home. And the shepherd is happy, for he has grown quite hungry. But the singing stops and the prayers start again and he’s aghast. He runs to the front of the synagogue, jumps on the stage and exclaims: “Yes, the longer you wait the better the stew—but to waiting there must be a limit!”

( Rabbi Yosef Marcus is the director of Chabad in S. Mateo. He is a staff writer at Farbrengen Magazine. His latest book, Tales of the Kabbalists, is due out this summer. You can reach him at rabbi@chabadnp.com )

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