I know who you are but who am I?

Friday, 24 December, 2021 - 12:09 pm

sammy-williams-ufgOEVZuHgM-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Sammy Williams on Unsplash 

David was walking downtown and was surprised to meet his long lost friend, Moshe. 

“Moshe! It’s so good to see you!” he exclaimed. “My Moshe, how you’ve changed over the years. I hardly recognized you, the glasses, the gray hair – you even look a little shorter…” 

“Excuse me,” replied the man, “but my name is not Moshe.” 

“What!? You even changed your name!!”

It is not all that uncommon that we mistake one person for another but have you ever mistaken your own identity?

Which reminds me of the fellow with the identity crisis. When he was dressed he would be able to differentiate himself from others by the way he was dressed. He struggled though when he was at the bathhouse and everyone looked more or less the same. 

He finally found a therapist who came up with a solution; he was to tie a red string around his big toe and then he would know that he was the guy with the red string on his toe. 

Everything was going swimmingly until one time he was in the bathhouse and the red string came loose and ended up on someone else’s toe. What to do!?

Finally, he walked over to the fellow and said to him, “Excuse me sir, please help me out. I see the red string on your toe so I know who YOU are. But who am I??”

In all seriousness, I think “mistaken identity” can sometimes be the way to describe many modern Jewish people. We have come to think that Judaism is about caring for global warming and social justice, and we seem to have forgotten the holy mission with which we have been charged.

Being confident in our Jewish identity is likely the single most important element of being Jewish today. 

Just like when our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt, the Torah informs us that it was in the merit of their maintaining a distinct identity, apart from the mainstream Egyptian culture of the time, that they were saved. 

Life is full of turbulence. We can make all the plans we’d like but we can never fully anticipate every possible twist and turn. To navigate life we need to maintain a distinct identity that is privy to the whims of society. This anchors us and guides us, and helps us successfully navigate the challenges we face. 

The good news is that while we live in a physical world, we are really “amphibious creatures” – because we have a wholly spiritual side too, our soul. 

It’s not enough to nourish our physical body, we have to remember our spiritual, G-dly side as well. And until we recognize that side of ourselves and nourish it, we will consistently be mistaken about our own identity.

As Jewish people we have a 3300+ year heritage that has helped generations before us maintain their identity and navigate the challenges in their path. 

It’s time we “find ourselves”. It’s time we re-engage in, and strengthen our connection with, our heritage. And the good news is that we don’t have to look very far to find it, it’s right here within us. 

What do you think? I think it’s time to look inside and find yourself!

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