Rabbi Simon Jacobson – The 21st Century Jew



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oh hello again good afternoon how are you enjoying so far okay save that force for the chief rabbi and his great team for making this possible as I mentioned a number of times I can't imagine anywhere else in the world a gathering of such an eclectic audience from so many different walks of life in Israel I think it's impossible at this point in America I don't think it's either possible so I commend your community for being able to pull that off so thank you okay the 21st century Jew that's us yep believe it or not here we are in 2019 the Jewish people continues to survive and even thrive and we've always been blessed with a wisdom sometimes despite ourselves even to be able to look ahead and build a better future but every generation has its challenges and opportunities so I want to talk about that because I think perhaps the greatest legacy that we have is how we will do with the opportunities and blessings and the fact that we are here souls and bodies at this time in this place so of course technology always stands high on top of the list whenever you describe modern times and technology is a very good barometer for both our successes and also our failures I'll start wearing a personal note a few years ago I had the opportunity to go travel to a wedding of a friend and in the same car we were being driven I was sitting right now a colleague of mine we went to yeshiva together many years ago and I thought it was a great opportunity to catch up however he was busy on his mobile phone texting and texting and texting so I started elbowing him and this and that trying to get his attention I couldn't get his attention for the life of me and not that I was that desperate but we were sitting near each other after all so why not finally what do you do you can't get attention of a friend of yours sitting right near you you know it doesn't get closer than that so you know what I did I texted him so here I am sitting here he's sitting here I'm texting him and I was watching amusingly to see what's gonna happen he looks at his phone he'll accept me looks at his phone and he's wondering like what no he was a little disoriented by this system are you texting me I said yes why you're sitting right near me why do you need to text me I said cuz I can't get your attention she says okay so wait online fine and that's what I did but I didn't wait online I had other things to do we had never ended up speaking and I thought for that moment that the big question technology was supposed to free us emancipate us and I started wondering who's in control of whom the machines are controlling us so we're controlling the machines and last time we had was the last time you had a I to I heart to heart salt the salt conversation without any distractions and not saying one minute I gotta check the text and today it's not even rude because everyone's checking text so technology is a double-edged sword that has both sides let me share another episode the episode of my life which also captures some of the 20th first century paradox which is a great paradox and that is after I wrote toward a meaningful life the publisher sent me on a book tour I had no idea what it was but they sent me on a book tour they give you this VIP treatment red carpet just in case it ever happens to you let me tell you don't let it get to your head because it only lasts till midnight and then you turn back into a pumpkin and nobody looks at you so yeah Here I am at these 5-star hotels it sounds driving me and escorts everything you want so the way it works is at least in America those days they line up these media interviews print radio television and then the evening you speak at a bookstore Barnes & Noble or then there was a Borders these big chain bookstores and you sign books this is the way it worked today it's less prominent so there was the moment and I had fascinating stories of interactions that I was not the time to go into all of them but they were all unbelievable here's one Cleveland Ohio so I come here in the morning and then very early first stop Cleveland morning television show so they have these little short interviews 5 6 minutes on television live I walk in introduce me to the producer who's also the anchorwoman she gives one look at me and I never saw someone so were frightened her face turned pale and she's about to faint I was like you know taking her back I didn't know what I did so I said something wrong yeah she says I never thought that the author of this book would look like you that's what she said I said what you think I love it look like says I love your book it's on my nightstand I read I read it my family like one of most profound books and simple books at the same time changed my life in so many ways I never thought what would the also look like I said what do you think I should have looked like she said I thought it would look like a 6 tall skinny secular the sexy guy she said I told her I thought I do look like that perception anyway maybe two out of the three I don't know okay so I wasn't insulted I did tell her I said you know a lot of people be insulted by what you just said but I wasn't I actually found this very entertaining amusing so I said so why don't we talk about that that's a great opportunity why don't you say that oh she said I can't say that that's that's embarrassing so I said but put it into couching in other words and that's what she did her opening question to me was you book is a wonderful book it's universal wisdom anyone can read it for all people of all backgrounds relevant spiritual psychological emotional and wouldn't you be more successful and your message be more receptive if you looked like one of us that's the way she put it okay fine fair question so I said to her would you say the same thing to a Saudi Arabian Prince sitting with his garments or to someone from Jamaica wearing dreadlocks there you'd probably say wow so beautiful that you preserve your read tradition and culture so and I said maybe this is a good opportunity for us to dispel stereotypes and maybe talk instead of judging each other by looks let's talk about the merit of the issues and just see if we could have a normal conversation which ended up happening and it was actually very good I was very happy because the topic I'd like to talk about actually because we do often so often stereotype all of us do and so often we'll lose opportunities sometimes the person has a lot to say to you and you'll dismiss them because you don't like how they look or some other reason so really was a very excellent opportunity and it captured as I said the paradox is the paradox I face almost daily and definitely when I try and I speak and different different venues and that is here's a guy looking like me a beard in a yarmulke which for many who never met someone that looks quote-unquote Orthodox though I don't call myself that but people do seems like a primitive archaic you know even traditional and especially here I know in South Africa there's more respect for tradition America there is no such respect so I was dismissed so you could be very relevant than have messages that are very personable and accessible but I'll dismiss you because you look that way so I'm faced with this dilemma how do you bridge the two and it's a big question that many people have asked can you bridge faith and modernity faith in a modern world in the secular modern world they seem so dichotomous and so antithetical just one example faith is based for example on ideas of moral absolute morality certain things are right and certain things are wrong much of the secular world does not accept absolute morality it's called moral relativism depends case by case different communities it shifts so how can you breathe such two opposite worlds as I said I face this an x-ray I embrace this dilemma and this conflict and I think it's one of the key challenges for the 21st century Jew because we've been here for thousands of years we have an ancient culture tradition and yet we live in a world where many of our ourselves and our children grandchildren sometimes wonder is it still relevant is it still meaningful or are we just doing something out of obligation or guilt of fear just to continue something which we all know is not really sustainable if it doesn't have some deeper relevance because there's a lot of competition out there so I think there are dresses properly especially to be able to have a bird's-eye view and some foresight because it's so often easy to live in the moment to look at the big picture so to see your head you have to really look behind but to look back that's how it works to understand the future you have to understand the past how did we get here if you know how we got here will be easier to navigate how we go further and now just be driven by circumstances and random arbitrary factors so briefly not in a extensive or a detailed way or just a little overview of our history especially Jewish history but really the history of the world in many ways this dream especially of the West Western world and that is let's just take a date I'm gonna just choose a random date of 500 years ago just easier to talk about that way and of course all this is in general terms with many details and many variations as well as a process nothing happens overnight we didn't turn from where we are today 500 years in a snap it was a process so we were Jewish people 500 years ago all our ancestors they were either living in Sparta countries – more Middle Eastern countries or Spain northern Africa or in the Ashkenazi countries Central and Eastern Europe that's where the Jewish people were America was not yet discovered by the by the by the Western world by the European world I don't think there were any Jews in South Africa then and that's where we were and we were an oppressed nation obviously each time period was a different way either totally discriminated against and identified as Jews overtaxed and to the point of expulsion and pogroms and even genocides and attacks this has been our history but 500 years ago Jews 99.9 percent even higher than that there was no such thing as assimilation there were the rare occurrences of baptisms and conversions but they were very few the rest of the Jewish people even they wanted they couldn't assimilate because they weren't accepted in the Protestant or Catholic world of the of Europe couldn't join their universities you could not join their trades Jews had to be innovative and to find ways to make an account of living so even though on one hand it was very difficult times but internally they shtetl the Jewish community was very strong and great scholarly works were produced you know you read Rashi Ramraj bomb run ban Maimonides I'm just mentioning a few talking about hundreds if we didn't know better the sheer volume of output you'd think they were living in a very calm and relaxed time but they weren't so for a point of view of a tradition it was very strong and most people were born and died in the same town the same status the note knew their few the few people they knew and that was it there was no real travel there was definitely no technology it was barely there wasn't even mail so on one hand it was difficult from the outside forces but internally it was very pure innocent and he was a naive insulated and there was very strong Jewish communities sure they had their issues but was very different than our world and essentially in every community there was this respect for the Torah as I said there must have been challenges but that's what you had that's what you grew up with in that type of pure environment there are many things that didn't have to be said you didn't have to necessarily have to tell your child this is important to be a Jew people picked it up from the smell of the chicken soup and their grandmother's kitchen because there were no other smells and they picked it up in their work things they read and they learned in the environments so just imagine a world like that and this is our grandparents that's where they live that was that world we're in completely different world today what happened what happened was again briefly was the beginning of a new way of looking at politics and life and religion which began centrally in Central Europe was called first the Renaissance then the Enlightenment and the thinkers began to emerge who's got to challenge the authorities of the time and who were the authorities for over a thousand years monarchs and the church and there were not no one could question them there was no such thing as equal rights there was such thing as private property one individual or two individuals controlled a person's life and no one could challenge it there was any due process that we know of today as these winds changed the first who benefitted actually were the Jews because they were the most discriminated against and the laws began the laws of the land began to be a little more relaxed and suddenly Jews were allowed the opportunity yes to mingle and to join the universities and to protec in the culture and the arts and entertainment and music of the Western world primarily Christian well I'm talking right now mostly Europe so in this far the countries is another story but similar story in one way or another so the Jews were faced with the dilemma they never had before here they have all these new opportunities they come from a very ancient and strong tradition what do you do and they clashed in so many ways again there's nothing was resolved immediately but generally speaking in retrospect we could identify two schools of thought emerged how to deal with this this challenge one school of thought which was born mostly in Central Europe which later would become or not so much later in those years would become what's known as reformed Judaism was trying to address this issue and there was a line that was coined at the time it said a Jew at home and a guy in the street the best of both worlds why can we reconcile at home was strong traditional Jewish about kosher and so on but in the street we are like the Gentiles the problem of course is what happens when they clash what happens when your protestant neighbor invites you for Christmas dinner that's not kosher so you now drew at home were your Gentile on the street and not over simplified this was a real clash and it was not easily resolvable there was a point where there was a and that really changed the course of Jewish history in many ways that we have to drop a lot of the original Torah laws that didn't seem rational or at least modern so laws like ethics and morality and virtue great charity but was like purity impurity offerings things that were so-called super rational or their mind irrational you know that was primitive times these are not my words by the way and I'm not even trying to criticize it I'm really trying to just paint the picture of what occurred and if you don't use logic it may make sense we have to now adjust to new times and make compromises and changes to the point just like there was enlightenment in the non-jewish world whose alignment in the Jewish world and maybe we have to challenge these authoritative rabbinic positions that control Jewish life for so many years and that's what happened to the point just to drive the point home just to show you what extreme where weird goes when the reform movement moved from Europe to America now that movement within some Americans embrace that in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania there was a Jewish Committee Jewish moved a Jewish meeting reformed Jewish meeting it's called the Pittsburgh platform and they came out with ten principles of change and one of them which is what I wanna emphasizes the principles of change were that instead of Shabbat being on Saturday let's move it to Sunday it's not a joke that was what was proposed why because it makes it we were anyway keeping Shabbat so why not do it the same way that the rest of the world does it was to the Christian world on Sunday now that of course was so radical that no one accepted that it was rejected outright because then you know then we're losing them what is it wise is called Judaism might as well call it Protestantism but that's the extent that when you start tampering really where you draw the line and no one really knows where you draw the lines and many ways that is the birth of assimilation not with bad intentions but simply two worlds clashing and not knowing how to resolve this so you have to compromise one another school of thought another school of thought was born in Eastern Europe the birth of ultra-orthodox II and it's its mandate and his dictates were that we have the exact opposite because the modern world is now open to us we need to put on our own blinders and self-imposed ghettos and insulate ourselves from the evils of the Western world and all its benefits even the positive ones we must reject and they began it's almost extreme zealous approach which today manifests as well at seeing everything in the secular world as dangerous and threatening so we need to just lock it out just to give an example a number of years ago you might have heard in New York there was in Citi Field big big baseball stadium $100,000 docks Jews got together to boom own the evils of the Internet I'm nayara knee was not lost on all of us that this was being broadcast on the internet and are big jumbo screens in a sports stadium with the highest levels of technology and I was saddened by the event in many ways I understand where they were coming from I grew up in a traditional home but I was saddened because they didn't have a solution the best they came up with was we need to put filters filters and then the cynic said that it was the filter companies that sponsored the event so you could imagine what taste that left and I'm not dismissing the intentions good people trying to protect their children trying to protect them for many things internet that we don't want our children and for that matter adults to be exposed to but it just demonstrates the tension and the tenuous between a modern world and Orthodox religious world so there you have two schools of thought as stream is distant one from the other as possible and here's the fascinating fact they both suffer from the same dilemma in many ways they're exactly the same what is the dilemma they cannot find a way to integrate and reconcile between a modern world and God or modern world and Torah so one runs and escapes into religion into self-imposed installation and isolation and the other essentially succumbs and says okay will embrace the modern world and will try to be Jewish as possible but much much of it is lost that's what you have but if you think about it philosophically it's exactly the same dilemma it's just two different solutions but the same dilemmas two things can't work together one runs this way one runs this way it's vital for us to understand this because we're all affected by it one way or another whatever school of thought you're in or if you're not in any of them it still affects us because this is the Jewish world today so I want to suggest and submit that there's a third option that and that is our real challenge of the 21st century okay so as I said that two different schools of thought and many of us are in the fence or we don't really know we never even thought about it you know I was like that guy that says I'm still indecisive I'm neither decided like this or decide like that where the jogos used to say I used to think I'm indecisive now I'm not so sure you know so there is a lot of that today as well certain type of on the fence so there is a third option and frankly this third option that I personally came to embrace because I even as a young man and I was growing up in a very traditional environment so I had the extremes of real what some would call ultra-orthodox see I don't like that name I don't like labels altogether but that's what it would be the coin that is by some but thank God in my home my parents were very open-minded there was no dog no Dogma so though I was taught the tradition in a very intense way it was not imposed it wasn't based on condescension and judgment and critique of anybody that's not like you I didn't I grow up insulated my father was a journalist very well-read man very global thinking and that was a blessing for me because by nature I'm a skeptic and by nature very hard to fit into a straitjacket and though I saw my own colleagues and friends suffering sometimes from this trap because their homes may have been a little different I'm blessed and it was not due to my effort I just feel blessed that I was in the right place that allowed me to embrace Judaism and my terms without being imposed upon at the same time recognizing the pros and cons so for me it was impossible to brace either of the two they didn't make sense to me if you might as well if you're dropping Judy's you want to become a Protestant find that mates I mean it's tragic but at least it's like ideologically but I couldn't understand how you can be compromising all your basic principles because okay there are opportunities and the other extreme of locking out the whole world didn't make any sense to me God created a universe and he created all these opportunities so fine there are things that one shouldn't do but the throughout the baby in the bathwater everything is no good because it could be threatening and you might as well god forbid I don't want to say the words commit suicide this life is filled with risks that's what the world life is about not just the modern world influences every child going to school is risky who would the child's gonna meet predators out there I mean you have to find the life and Judaism was always brilliant and not just surviving but figuring out how to navigate and take a positive approach now defensible offense so here I present to you and I'm sure some of you may have heard it but maybe not in this context the third option but it's critical to remember this the third option is based on offense not defense which is the second school of thought and not compromise which is the first school of thought now may be a good way to capture is this joke they tell about the Knesset in Israel you know it's a very feisty place as you can imagine and one Jew gets up in the Knesset and says I have a new idea a great idea instead of fighting with the Arabs and with our enemies near us let's attack the United States of America and of course they'll beat us and then out of guilt they'll rebuild us as they did Japan and United and Germany after World War two so instead of twenty billion dollars of aid will get hundreds of billions the brilliant Jewish idea right so one old Jew gets up in the back and says in his broken English or Hebrew or whatever he says yeah very nice idea but what happens if we win okay right what do you do suddenly you win over America and now what do you do 300 million people you know and Donald Trump don't read into that justice thing so what does that tell you that we are great at playing defense that's what we've been doing for 2,000 years I would say most of our history and we've survived nobody can destroy us with underdog or excellent at that but what about orphans when you're given freedom now and opportunities far different challenge Israel as it became a state almost all the Jews could unite behind the fact that we need a homeland especially after the Holocaust was so obvious all schools of thought except maybe a few that were anti whatever piece but once you have a homeland then we have a strong army and we have unbelievable Renaissance going on in Israel now what you'll ask all the fund raisers they said it was great to fundraise when Israel was in crisis because Jews give when it's a challenge but things are going well and what do we tell our young people young people tell me all the time I'm sick and tired of hearing from my parents grandparents that what do we stand for anti anti-semitism that's what we don't stand for what do we stand for now when you psychologically and emotionally been playing defense for thousands of years it's a mindset that's a new mindsets like you get out of prison now what do you do and that is why it's a difficult challenge today in many ways even harder 500 years ago the challenge was external it was enemies very defined enemies but it wasn't that internal because internally it was very strong crystallized view of what our values were and why God put us on earth and what we're supposed to do with this world and life of ours today the freedoms I finally create the complacency and indifference in ways in a certain apathy like the guy that asked his friend what's worse apathy ignorance he said I don't know and I don't care you know indifference I don't know what I don't care kiss of death but Jews always were trailblazers we were always pioneers and each of us can be pioneers and here's the third option and it's really based on Jewish thought it's based on the fact that God created the world he gave us a Torah and he anticipated all the challenges so 500 years ago we didn't have challenges modern technology so wasn't important to dig deeper and figure out what do you do with it or we didn't have challenges of a modern secular world and all its offerings but now we do and the answer is that if they dig deeper you don't say oh this world is just dangerous if God gave Torah and he gave us the tools dig deeper and find tools to deal with this new world Jews were never ascetics we did not escape from reality we didn't go up on mountains and just cut ourselves off we always engaged with the world and yet remained above it be in it but above it so how do you do that in our world you dig deeper and we do you dig you dig into the Torah you know which part of the Torah one that was never spoken before as I said the chicken soup of our grandmother's Shabbos soup was enough to sort of smoke inculcate within us a sense of Jewish pride and commitment today you have to spell it out because there are many other smells and there many other odors and there many other forces in life so what do we have to dig we dig into the soul of Judaism into the soul of Torah and what is the soul the soul teaches us that the prayer that everybody knows the most famous Jewish prayer is what Schmeisser all hashem elokenu hashem HUD that last word and HUD so abraham monotheism everyone thinks the hard means one God and not many the cloud means much more than that it means one reality and not many so there's a theological question do you think God exists more on Yom Kippur at the Hara bias at the Temple Mount then he doesn't the afternoon here in Johannesburg in a in a convention center it's not a synagogue so you think about it one second of course we can't card isn't divisible you can't split them into two that's exactly the point there's one reality God is within everything that exists not only in our holy activities and sacred activities a prayer or Torah study or bar mitzvahs or yom kippur x' or synagogues that every fiber of existence has it pulsating within it divine energy the mystics put it this way there are divine sparks everywhere and every one of us every one of us is allocated with a certain amount of sparks to redeem to free and it comes down to even a simple thing like taking a cup of water you make a blessing on it and you recognize that this water is an opportunity what is the opportunity for you to be able to elevate it and use the string that you get from it to do a good deed not just self-indulgence and not just satisfying your thirst but it's getting strength to change the world in some small way that's essentially what Jewish mysticism will call penny mere Satara the soul of Torah teaches now it was always known between the line so wouldn't it have to be spelled out the Mystics the few great leaders and Giants five hundred years ago a thousand years ago always knew it and it's documented books like the Zohar but it was a book that was very exotic and very cryptic and inaccessible but as the years rolled on their leaders that truly understood the new challenges taught a third method that you don't have to escape and you don't have to compromise you need to dig deeper and say all these new opportunities I really divine opportunities for us to use to the create to sanctify them and I'll give a few examples to make this very palatable and very simple so it's essentially saying we don't have what is escaping from a world that God placed us the soul into this world and say we're afraid there's a Classics the question and the posture that asks Rabi Akiva in the Talmud if God didn't want idolatry he should have destroyed the son of the moon and that way you don't have some worshipers are no moon worshipers Rabi Akiva simply answered he said God be my player shake him yabba the shaman said la may do two fools God is going to destroy his world because they don't understand what the Sun I'm only I'm misusing it so commentary the taste agentive says right there he says why didn't he follow up with a question so got widened God destroyed the fools because we have free will that's life we are always presented with two choices every moment of our lives are you going to use this next moment for selfish reasons or for some giving selfless reason we always have this choice are we going to use it for a divine purpose or we're gonna use it for our own selves and that's what Judaism has always taught but as I said years ago centuries ago it did not need to be emphasized because it was a given and the challenges were not quite like they are today today we have to spell it out that every gift just like Sun and Moon there's technology technologies that man made the machines that tap into technology are man-made just like electricity is not man-made these are forces in nature that it took years or centuries or millennia to figure out and now we tap into them and when you tap into them you can use it for nonsense the accuser for business you can use it for selfish purposes or you can use it for divine purposes give one example I was I think I told the story some of my talks I don't even remember where when but I was invited to a sabaton in East Hampton New York which is the east end of Long Island and I'm driving a stop for gas after I fill up my car there's a fellow there a young guy 18 19 year old guy and he's parking cars a parking attendant and he says to me am I staying for the party there was a club there nearby I parked my car I said no but I'm going to another party what kind of party I told him it's the coldest shabbat party i went he was very intrigued so I shared with what it is then he asked me what do I do I said I'm a writer I'm a speaker a teacher it's spirituality psychology so he said to me do you have an email list yeah here give me his email and that was it I moved on I went to the shop a toner came back home gave it to my office and he got in the list he started receiving these emails and I never expected to hear from him again almost seven more than seven years later I received an email from him you probably don't remember me I was his parking attendant a little hick kid you probably didn't know I was Jewish Jewish and tragically my parents were killed in a car accident when I was very young two three years old and I was shipped I was moved from one foster home to another very bad life I never got any opportunities I have no idea what judaism is and that's why when i met you and i heard what you have to say i wanted i was intrigued and i have to tell you that your emails have become my judaism i pray with them i study them and he started using words like torah Tefila says Konica was just Konica i celebrated with your emails shabbat listening every holiday and I saw he really knew it well and he was like into it I literally began to cry set the meso Wow maybe technology was created exactly for that because the likelihood that I would have invited him to a class to my in New York they would come most likely not but here in this place without any extra effort on my part of my office's part you press a button it goes to 30,000 people go to through 30,000 l1 people without extra penny no extra cost that can change the person's life that was impossible 500g as it goes impossible 50 years ago that's how we have to think that all the modern technology was there for us as a gift to use for the divine purpose and not only is it not a threat it's there for us to use it in the correct way does it have risks everything has arisen lighting a fire has a risk can cause terrible damage or if you contain it and channel it we must have fire in our lives warmth water also everything has potential both extremes but Judaism teaches that we don't have to be afraid of the world that was God created because it was created exactly with that purpose to give us the choice to be a partner with God in creation God provides the resources and we have to be wise and not fools to understand what these resources are for to use them for some greater purpose this is the way a twenty-first century Jews should think and look because it's no longer about a world back then now why the Jews then and did not see it that way because things came quickly remember there was not technology everybody tried their best and I'm not trying to judge or in any way criticize but here we are my father's a journalist he stories say there are three types of people people who make things happen people who watch things happen and people who ask what happened we have to be ones that make things happen we're not victims to the world around us we look at every situation and even things that may seem setbacks and difficulty you turn it into an opportunity and what is it a spiritual opportunity as I said divine sparks here's a story that always touches me it always inspires me I hope do you too as well it's a story with the Baal Shem Tov he had a colleague student his name was Rob hi I'm Rappaport and he once sent him once on a mission he comes back mission accomplished but the power center wasn't satisfied he wanted to know how do you travel oh okay it seems like irrelevant tangential so fine he says the first night I stated some in the next night there was no interstate I camped out at the side of the road in the morning I woke up I washed my hands I said my prayers and then I sat down to have something to eat and I noticed the spring of water at the edge of the road I went over took a cup I made a blessing borrow hashem elokenu melech ha-olam shackled me a bit worried and drank the water pour some tough jumped up excited and said that spring of water was waiting from the beginning of time for you to come and make a blessing on it that's the story think about the implications of that I traveled many places some places that I don't think any Jew ever walked like for example speaking to Sri Lankan monks hey like that I have other stuff like that too and I always find remember this story reminds me of that you know and the words of Robert Frost the road less traveled you travel in the wood and the road converged here's a road that everyone travels on and then there's a road less traveled on and I I chose the one that lets traveled on and that has made all the difference I think back about Abraham and our pioneering forefathers and foremothers patriarchs and matriarchs that's what they did and they knew they're doing it they paved new ground they were pioneers trailblazers and I would feel the opportunity is there that perhaps that will streak you're walking on or that person you meet or that water you're drinking or whatever it is there's been waiting from the beginning of time for you to come and do some good deeds and elevate using the mystical terms the spark within it and you change existence and when you do that accumulative ly over thousands of years you change the world in a real way today that's not a matter of faith physics teaches how the universe is intrinsically connected subatomic particles sense each other the butterfly flex you do one little thing in one place and has a tremendous effect could be millions of miles away in the words of my mana teas all we see that everything is balanced and all we need to do is one act and it could tip the scales the ripple effects today call it viral effect we know you can send the message right now I'm speaking now not being broadcast live but it will be up online potentially 7 1/2 billion people could be watching I'm not saying they will be but it could be see we have to always be optimistic and that's the way you have to think because it's all opportunities imagine teaching our children yes of course we have to put on our locks on the doors we have to warn and be afraid of different concerns and dangers I'm not suggesting not to be prudent but above all to think like a leader like a commander-in-chief there's a challenge let's figure out how that's another opportunity and that's the challenge of our times now if you ask me that the leaders of our the Jewish leaders of our time have yet embraced this challenge I will refrain from answer why because there's a lot to be done but I will say for my end it's clear to me like the day that this is the future of the 21st of the Jews the only way the plate defense is almost impossible this phone here there's no defense you can't put up a ghetto wall there's no defense everything is now there no more walls so the only defense is offense and we have the tools so though in a short discussion like this can't go through a whole training but I would encourage and not just encourage I think it's our responsibility an obligation to go back wherever we come from and challenge your rabbis and find the books and find materials and find answers an antidote to any one of the challenges a challenge figure out where is the divine spark in that challenge and perhaps discover that that challenge was waiting for you to achieve that and all the world is waiting for you to accomplish something it's a whole different way of looking at life people say I'm bored what I mean bored this divine sparks everywhere everywhere you go this is an opportunity that type of attitude can really change how we think and above all really fulfill the destiny of what we are as the Jewish people this is the 21st century challenge we're at the infancy of technology some people say but technology is now is where television was approximately in 1930 I know we all think it's all advanced but there's new things coming and be much more greater challenges but also greater opportunities every one of you you have your sphere of influence you have your connections your way of looking at things everyone's here trained in some way or another your expertise it's not enough just to be an expert think how can I use my expertise and my field of experience to turn it into something more divine something more transcendent something that I could say that perhaps I was given these gifts because the whole world is waiting from the beginning of time for me to come and do something that no one ever did that's how a Jew should think I think all of us should think so my friends this will be my last talk here at least this time around now that I can breathe a sigh of relief I will tell you I didn't tell this to say it till now it's my 26th talk here since last Thursday I started out in Cape Town [Applause] I wasn't that was that request for applause frankly but thank you and then Durban Cape Town Durban and now here Johannesburg and beautiful crowd beautiful people you are great people you are so kind and gracious and appreciative and it's really very heartwarming like a family of mesh pocket but I want to tell you one little secret that I did not share and I didn't tell it to the chief rabbi but now I'll say since I'm coming to my concluding remarks last right a week before I travel from New York to here to South Africa I went to see a voice doctor for the first time in my life because I was sensing for the last two months a hoarseness and I used him not hoarse first I thought it was a cold I'm sharing with you this is a type of group therapy so I'm just venting at this point okay don't mind if you don't mind yeah and they discovered a polyp on my vocal cord okay what do you think about that now I'm going for two weeks to South Africa and I have to speak basically three times a day and I have to tell you I must say God was kind though I sense the hoarseness at times but really I was able to pull it off so maybe was you well I don't know what it was I just feel I should say that as a voice of gratitude that my voice did not give away I do have some exercises I'm doing I don't know if they're helping but so I wanted to just share with you so maybe this polyp was waiting from the beginning of time for me to come and overlook it and ignore it to be able to continue giving these talks now I'll tell you this just an another personal note I love to sing and I would have concluded with the meegan to be honest I have a song that I'd like to sink however because of my voice I don't know how it's gonna go so if you indulge me I'll try and if I embarrass myself so be it you know maybe I need that humbling or if you guys vote that I shouldn't try then I won't so it's up to you [Applause] okay I know I'd be told to finish already so this is I'm gonna since they did squeeze the lemon for everything it's worth that's me so maybe I'll just go over time a bit okay so actually this is a song I sang I mentioned Sri Lankan monks this is what this is a scene you'll never believe so I was invited to speak to a group of Slanket monks who came to a museum in New York Crown Heights how to do to their cultural exchange certain obligations that museums have to share some called it was between Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur so I call when I see these around 30 monks in these great these Buddhist Buddhists in these orange robes they all speak English and so I was asked to say a few words I get up there I start speaking so I thought it was appropriate to speak about some mystical idea Rosh Hashanah spiritual renewal energy renewal and I that's what I focused on now I'm sitting there sitting in the front row like this and I was completely the way flustered because as a speaker I like the feel of the audience you want to see the vibe you want to see they but they're trained to be stone like like Sphinx so whatever whatever I ear said no jokes they didn't laugh at the sad stories they didn't cry at there's no reaction so had no idea whether they heard anything where they appreciate it didn't appreciate it in my off base so I decided that's it okay I'll pull my secret weapon I'm gonna sing a song so I asked them permission yeah so I decided I'll sing a yom kippur song and i know for sure and i remember the story with the baal shem tov they never heard a yom kippur song I guarantee you and I confirmed it later so I felt like I'm doing you know shredding a new path here I said maybe from the beginning of time these four Lanka monks were waiting for me to sing them a yom kippur melody and this is the song I sang I said I really feel I hope I can pull it off and if not I apologize okay so this is what I sang for them and and I'll tell you what happened afterwards yeah you know nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah no Ian on nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah nyah boy oh yeah you know you know you know nyah nyah nyah nyah the I and I and I and Oh Anna nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah oh and I and I and I and I and I nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah No Liana nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah the unknown you know ha ha nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah night uh No nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah-nyah no na na na no yo yo yo yo yo yo na na you know nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah no homes they are not nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah nyah-nyah known ok so and here's my concluding line so you could put down the side finish I'm finish okay what happened was literally their faces changed the monks and they I could see it had a dramatic impact on them right afterwards I went to speak to them and I said let me ask you did you hear what I said yeah we loved what you said it was so deep and me moving but we're trained when the master speaks you just listen you don't react what about the song we couldn't control ourselves so I felt very good about that power of a song so I want to thank you again for your kindness and attention and indulging me and be proud 21st century Jews to know that you are carrying the baton and a long marathon that began thousands of years ago and now we're asked to move it to the next generation we have our challenges but we have tremendous opportunities and we have each other so please see me as a resource as a friend as an ally any way I could help you in a your spiritual journey to me that's the greatest honor and I'm very accessible you can go to meeting four live.com slash live we set up a whole series of array of materials you can feel free to access I also was told as I mentioned my previous talk that my book toward a meaningful life will be available at the bookstore call a bookstore as of tomorrow so please don't hesitate to reach out to me and I hope we all can complement each other in this great cosmic symphony and make proud ourselves our families our communities and the world and God who gave us the gifts and opportunities and all the souls throughout history can look to us the 21st century Jew and say yes you've done your part we're all happy we're all proud and we march toward the Messianic Redemption immediately the ghulam it is rush Lima epic are of moms thank you so much you [Applause]