The Baal Shem Tov explained: “Every event that occurs is controlled by Hashgachah Protis (Divine Intervention). ...Everything a Jew sees or hears contains a lesson useful in the service of God.” With this perspective, the unfolding of everyday current events takes on a whole different meaning. What happens every week, every day, every moment — there is a hidden subtext. It’s just a matter of interpreting events on a deeper level. Last week the unfortunate flotilla incident occurred. Rather than analyzing this event in isolation, we have taken the Baal Shem Tov’s advice and reflected on concurrent events in an attempt to decipher any cosmic messages. We have called these occurrences and reflections Baal Shem Tov Moments.
#1: The Imperfect Game Stands: Locked in Tradition
Event: Last Wednesday, Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game but umpire Jim Joyce erroneously called the last batter safe on an infield single. After Joyce reviewed the tapes, he admitted he erred and personally apologized to Galarraga, hugging him after the Tigers’ 3-0 win and taking to the field the next day in tears. Commissioner Bud Selig, the ultimate decision maker, decided to not set a precedent by reversing the call. He is considering changing the rules associated with the future use of instant replay.
Possible Meaning: For all involved in the Middle East conflict, it is important to review the facts after-the-fact and be willing to change opinion. The umpire was willing to admit his mistake once he saw the videotape replay. The commissioner, caught up in tradition, was not able to change his mind — but he may change how he approaches future events. Israel is on the right track by releasing original footage and signaling openness to changing Gaza policy, even if the information won’t change the minds of many who are instinctively anti-Israel. Baseball and world politics operate under great ambiguity and subjectivity. Hopefully a clearer vision and more unbiased approach can prevail.
#2 The BP Gulf Spill: Dealing with Complex Problems
Event: Last week BP and the U.S. government continued to struggle with the aftermath of the April 20 explosion. All emergency methods to stem the massive oil leak — from top hat to top kill — have failed. Despite the vast resources of one of the world’s largest oil companies and the U.S. government, little progress has been made.
Possible Meaning: Brute force is not always the answer. Like the situation in the Middle East, the deepwater well represents a complex and highly difficult problem. What is needed is not just the will to fix the problem, but also expertise, creativity and innovation. Entrenched institutions must avoid the temptation to simplify and instead examine the issue in all its complexity — taking ideas from anywhere that might prove helpful.
Maybe Israel and BP need to use a little more seichel — wisdom with ingenuity, creativity, subtlety and nuance. And let’s not forget that the only way the BP spill is truly going to be stanched is by going to the root of the problem and drilling an entirely new well. A whole new approach may also be needed for the Gaza situation.
#3 The Gores Divorce – Even Perfect Couples Can Part Ways
Event: The Gores — who have been married for 40 years — announced this past week they are going to split up. They showed us that love could survive tough circumstances (a child nearly killed in a car accident, Tipper’s depression battle and all the difficulties of living in the public eye). And it seemed they would never break up ... until they did.
Possible Meaning: No marriage or relationship is safe. What happened to the Gore’s 40-year union could happen to any of us, including Israel and its world partners. If any relationship seemed destined to go the distance, you’d have thought it would be Al and Tipper. Surely they would have outlasted the Clintons. But nothing is permanent, and Israel can’t assume that its relationships with Turkey or America — although longstanding — won’t materially change. The Gores said they would remain friends, but not have that special relationship. For Israel and America, a relationship change seems inevitable, but a detached and less emotional attitude would be disastrous and might lead to Israel being perceived by Americans as burdensome and detrimental to American interests. Too bad there are no prenuptial agreements among world powers.
What do you think? Share your Baal Shem Tov moments. Help us identify related simultaneous events so we can better understand a problem and extrapolate a solution.
Send your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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