Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Born on Mount Everest

I would like to share with you a story about Mount Everest. It's a story that I received from a mystical rabbi from Hebron.

A wealthy man decided that he wanted to climb Mount Everest. Having reached the pinnacle of success in business, a trek to the summit of Everest seemed a natural capstone for his adventures.

The man called to book a trip to Everest, but was denied.

"Mount Everest is the roughest place on Earth," the agent explained. "You need to be a highly skilled climber with years of training before you can even attempt Everest. Many men have died on their way to the top".

The man trained for seven years before he attempted to summit Everest. As the agent had originally suggested, it was the toughest battle of his life, but he made it to the top. He was exhausted, covered in North Face gear, and gasping for breath in his Oxygen tank, but he experienced a euphoria he had never known as he looked back at what he had achieved.

Suddenly, he noticed a bunch of children running around Everest. They were wearing plain clothes, throwing around a ball and laughing. The man thought he was delusional from the altitude, but the children didn't disappear.

"Why are you running around here?" the man asked the children. "Don't you know where you are? This is the top of Everest: the highest point in the world! Do you know how few people get to experience this?"

"What are you talking about?" answered the children. "We were born here."

As you well have noticed, this was not actually a story about Everest, but rather a parable about the modern-day experience of the Jewish people.

My generation was born on Mount Everest. The existence of the State of Israel has been a fact for my entire life. Most diaspora Jews live in countries where anti-Semitism is not an official government policy. Indeed, many Jews have reached high places of business, government, the arts, and nearly every other field.

The generation raised under this paradigm often has the mentality that all is well for the Jewish people -- or even that all is too well. As a result, we devote our talents and energies to (sometimes self-destructive) "Flavor-of-the-Month" activist causes.

Ironically, having been reared in the greatest modern time of prosperity for Jews has left us with poor historical perspective. We live in a world where it is not easy, and never has been, to be Jewish. We forget that 1948 was a moment nearly 2000 years in the making. We forget for how long and how many people have given their lives to make sure that we reached this moment. More specifically, the familial history of many families only goes back a few generations; we are not taught how Jews have spent the last 1000 years enduring pillagings, pogroms, torture, slavery, dhimmitude, and other unimaginable evils.

If we look a little bit farther afield we will see that indeed, we are standing atop Mount Everest. This is the moment that we have been waiting for, and now, more than ever, we need to be proud of who we are and step up our efforts to lead and support the Jewish people.

Evan R. - MH Palo Alto

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