Musings by Moishy Scheiner of Boulder, CO who is currently studying in NY.
Occupy Wall Street has become a powerful movement that is spreading around the globe. Its adherents claim they are outraged & feel hopelessly trapped by a cabal of bankers & corporations. This movement has been developing its own brand of philosophy & ethics.
Many Americans have split opinions and feelings over the issue. Some give full support to it, while others side with Occupy Wall Street ideology but not in their tactics. And there is a third group who are fully outraged that a large public group of citizens intends to challenge their philosophy of government and democracy.
So what does the Torah have to say about Occupy Wall Street?
In this week’s portion of Vayeirah, the Torah tells us of the story of how Abraham is sitting outside his tent in the boiling heat of the desert after he has just performed an excruciatingly painful circumcision at the age of 99. Although he should have been resting, he chose to sit in the heat and wait to search for any passerby or traveler that needed food or water. WHY?
Abraham recognized that life is useless if it is not used to do good in the world. He understood that every human being has a little spark of God inside of it that has infinite potential which, if left unused or unchanneled, is a great loss to humanity. Therefore he was sitting outside waiting to help whoever came along.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke of the rebellion of the youth in the 60’s. The cultural & political authorities of that day viewed the Counter-culture as an attempt to combat the established system of governance, thus people were forced to take sides which often times broke up families.
The Rebbe explained, that rebellion stems from the fire of the soul which refuses to conform to the normal shallow perspective of society. This fire or energy constantly drives us to aim higher and reach for a better more Godly world. It is the voice of conscience that constantly compels us to seek for truth and place it in its right context in the world.
The challenge is to take that energy and channel it for good. Like Abraham, we must recognize that energy within us and use it towards our purpose and mission to spread G-dliness and therefore good on this earth. We must not conform to society and yet we must stand up for His morals and values regardless of the opinions of the society that encompasses us.
So do I agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement? That is not so important. But, do I believe it’s a powerful development? Whether it will produce any lasting good or just more unrest will yet be seen. Do I believe it’s a powerful development for the consciousness of change and good in the world? 100%!