It feels like many events are coming together. We’re beginning to talk about the future rather Jewishly. We’ve made contact with some people who are helping us. Those who are shunning us seem to be quieting down and moving on. And surprisingly we’re hearing about a number of individuals and couples who have been involved with Messianic Judaism who are beginning to question Jesus’ validity as the messiah. We have spoken to some who have left that religion and are in the process of conversion. Others are researching and struggling. But for us, the high emotional drama of rejecting Jesus/Yeshua and Messianic Judaism (which is an insidious form of Christianity and just as idolatrous) seems to be channeling into intellectual energy, personal growth, and unity.
I was listening to Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb speak on the topic of “How to Live With Questions You Can’t Answer” and he mentioned the phenomenon of swarming behavior in locusts. Apparently when the density of locusts reaches a certain value, the locusts, who prefer to live independently, begin to act as a swarm. Scientists say this behavior gets switched on by increased stimulation of the hind legs from being jostled by other locusts and through prolonged exposure (via sight and smell) to other locusts. But what gets activated? The neurotransmitter serotonin. In humans, low serotonin can lead to depression. Maybe one could suggest a correlation between living in isolation and depression. Research certainly bears that out. But does swarming just make locusts feel “happy?”
Actually swarming behavior offers three key advantages: increased resources, safety, and a robust gene pool. What is in common? Survival. Being alive certainly can make someone happy. This is one element of Judaism (among so many) that is very compelling to me. The Torah, when lived according to the Rabbis and the traditions, provides the “jostling” and stimulating exposure to other Jews that is a key component to the survival of the Nation of Israel.
Now I know from experience that Jews don’t walk around with a smile imprinted on their face feeling as if life is grand and a bowl of cherries. Maybe this will happen when the messiah comes and Israel‘s enemies have been crushed. But what is real is that Torah Judaism offers something more than a transient feeling. Moshe told Israel that life and death was being set before them and he told them to choose life. Torah, the Tree of Life, is the only way to devekut. For those who grasp it, its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are shalom.