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THE WANDERING JEW
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Today, people are looking for nourishment for the soul. They are plagued by the longing in their hearts for meaning and purpose to life itself.
Today, the younger generation of Israeli youth is still on the move. In contrast to their ancestors, however, they search not for a land that will allow them to establish secure homes and to raise their children as upright Jews. Their search is not for physical survival, but for a balm for the unrest within their hearts. Let us look again at the words of the prophet Amos: "Behold, days are coming, saith G-d your L-rd, and I shall cast a hunger on the land; not a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water, but rather to hear the words of G-d (Amos 8:11). This verse relates to a unique process that is now taking place among the current generation of the People of Israel. It clearly describes a heavy famine different from any other the world has experienced in the past. People are not searching for food for their bodies; the world is blessed with unprecedented supplies of grains, fruits, meats and poultry. Today, what people lack is not something to fill their stomachs, but nourishment for the soul. They are plagued by the longing in their hearts for meaning and purpose to life itself. When this famine reaches its peak, even those previously distanced from Torah will experience a vacuum in their inner souls, and set out to find the word of G-d in order to satisfy their spiritual hunger and nourish their souls. The prophet Amos continues to describe what will happen when this famine of the soul envelops the Jewish People: They will rove from ocean to ocean, from north and even unto the East; they will wander to seek out the word of G-d, and they will not find (it). This second verse from the prophecy of Amos is even more surprising than the first. How can it be that people will go looking for G-d's words, and not find what they seek? How can a person who is so determined to find meaning in his life that he tours India and the Far East, who travels the globe from one sea to the other, and from from north and even unto the East... fail in his search? The Scripture clearly tells us that from there, (your exile), you shall seek G-d, and you will find (Him). Has the Creator not promised us that when His people will set out to look for Him, they will find Him? Why does G-d hide Himself from someone who is willing to leave his home and tramp the mountains of India or sit and meditate for hours under the guidance of some guru or Chinese master in his search for Truth and Harmony? Our Sages teach: If someone tells you: 'I made an effort, and I found what I was looking for,' you can believe that his words are true. If he tells you 'I made an effort, and I did not find what I was looking for,' do not believe him. How can we reconcile these words of the Sages with the prophecy of Amos, who clearly declared, as quoted above: ...they will wander to seek out the word of G-d, and they will not find (it). Let us consider the matter more closely, and we will discover that both statements are valid. The prophet Amos states that the people will search from ocean to ocean and will not find G-d. The reason is that they are making a basic mistake; one does not find the Creator by traveling the globe, but by examining one's own heart and plumbing the depths of one's soul, not of the seven seas. A person who makes his way from the East to the West is exploring the physical world, not the spiritual realm. He may discover new worlds, but they will be of the flesh, not of the spirit. On the contrary, the adventures of the backpacker are likely to distract one's attention from the right place to begin his search: within his own soul. It is there, and there alone, that man is able to discover infinite spiritual treasures. We need only glance at the tens of thousands of Jewish backpackers who swarm the coasts, mountains, and cities of India, searching, groping, seeking some vague formula that will fill the emptiness they sense within themselves. They drift from one tourist sight to another, restless, and searching for some quality they themselves find difficult to define. They realize that they lack something, but cannot put their finger on what it is. Tragically, many remain hungry and thirsty, even after months or years of searching. In fact, their longing for peace of mind and harmony of the heart only grows with time. For many, the search is fruitless; they despair of finding contentment, and float, like a boat with no port or anchor, whichever way the tides and winds propel them. This same spiritual thirst has spawned an interest in the mystic and the esoteric, so much so that courses such as kabbalah and the like abound. People grasp slivers of knowledge, for lack of anything more substantial, as a drowning swimmer clutches desperately at a floating straw.
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