The Baal Shem Tov taught: Whatever a Jew sees or hears is there to teach him a lesson in spiritual development.
Musings on life, spirituality and current world events.
Friday, February 15, 2013
The nation is in shock. No matter what you think of the Oscar Pistorius story (and there are some very divergent opinions out there), it's an absolute tragedy. Young people, both with promise- lives shattered. It's horrible.
What bothers me most is society's morbid fascination with a story like this. Media seems to thrive on the fallen hero; they're all over the story before there really is a story. Speculation is rife, opinions fly and we all tend to get sucked in.
It didn't take long for the distasteful jokes to circulate. Opinions and armchair analysis developed quickly over coffee, in school parking lots and through social media. Sure, it's a natural human response to try and make sense of our dismay by talking and reading and listening to newscasts, as we hope to find "an explanation". But, today's news seems to deliver the shock-value too often, too quickly. The gloom-peddlers seem eager to make a buck and raise ratings through other people's torment.
Interestingly, yesterday's daily Rambam piece focused on "rechilus", gossip or "peddling news". We're all familiar with the Torah's ban on lashon hara, not to speak badly of people, even when the story is true. Conjecture runs the risk of falling into the more odious category of "motzi shem ra", character assassination or libel. But, rechilus is a trait that Judaism despises just as strongly. And all it is is spreading news, sharing the innocent "did you hear?".
Whatever happened out in Pretoria yesterday is tragic, it's a story a life-altering mess that a person can surely never recover from. But, it's also really none of our business. How does it enhance our lives and quest for personal growth to dissect the news reports and callously joke about such an event?
There is really only one thing we should meditate on when such a story flies in our face: Who can claim to be so self-assured to know that they will never make a life-destroying mistake? We would do well to ask ourselves how often we look inward to check that we don't feel overconfident or invincible or deluded enough to imagine that we could never fall. Our response should be humility, gratitude that we have never crashed so severely and heartfelt prayer that we never do.