Dream or Reality?

Friday, 7 April, 2017 - 6:09 am

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” So said Dr. Martin Luther King on the 28th of August, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in a speech that became one of the most famous speeches of the twentieth century.

In this speech Dr. King repeated the mantra of “I have a dream” and each time he described a situation that were it to come to pass, would be a dream come true, even though the things that he hoped and fought for should have been the natural, rational reality. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Should such an ambition be a dream? Of course not! It is a legitimate ambition and should be a reality, whereas the racist reality that judged people by the color of their skin is the one that should have been only a dream.

True, Dr. King paid for this with his life, but his dreams came true and became a logical and natural reality.

Today, the 11th of the Nissan, is the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s birthday, and I would like to share with you what seems to me to be the greatest revolution that the Rebbe brought about in the world. I don’t mean the Chabad Houses and the Shluchim, but rather a revolution in the thinking of anyone who delved into the Rebbe’s teachings deeply. The Rebbe changed the thinking of anyone he met from a Galut (exile) way of thinking to a Geulah (redemptional) way of thinking.

People say, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” The Rebbe’s way of thinking was that “If life hands you a lemon, don’t make lemonade – make lemon wine or some other fine drink.”

The Rebbe looked at the world and said fervently: This does not make sense. This is not the way the world should work. It is not the difficult, oppressive, painful and burning Galut that is the logical reality, with the Geulah being the pleasant, unnatural dream. It is the complete opposite: We have to understand and internalize that it is a life of good health and happiness, wealth, love and brotherhood – a life of Geulah – that should be the natural thing, the thing we deserve. That should be the reality! The Galut, with all its difficulties and evils, pain and suffering – that should be defined as a dream that is clearly unnatural and doesn’t make sense.

And in the Rebbe’s words: “Since the person is so permeated with the sense of Galut, he cannot feel the matter of the Geulah, so much so that when one speaks with him about the Geulah, it seems to him to be a ‘dream’!”

But the truth is that the opposite is the case. In other words, the “dream” is not the Geulah, but rather it is the Galut that is a “dream”. For, what is the connection between a Jew and exile? Whereas the Geulah is reality – the true reality of a Jew!” (Shabbat Pinchas, 5747).

It’s all in the head, my friends. When the way of thinking changes, life changes.

Martin Luther King fought for equal rights for the blacks in America, because he believed with all his heart that the reality he was living in was clearly not logical, and equal rights, which seemed like a dream at the time – that was what should have been the reality.

Martin Luther King succeeded in his task, because he convinced his people that dream and reality in their lives had exchanged places!

When I was a child, reality claimed that a Jewish boy could not walk around in the Red Square in Moscow next to the Kremlin while wearing a yarmulke and sporting Pe’ot (sidelocks) and Tzitzit. You could do this only in your dreams. But today, reality allows this, and it is as natural as natural can be.

The Rebbe was a Geulah Jew, and he demanded that everyone who came in contact with him be so too.

An ill person will not pray that he feel better, but, rather, he will pray that he will be completely healthy, that the problem should disappear from his life. A person suffering financial difficulties will not just ask for a loan, but will pray to be free of financial limitations altogether. Someone who has marital problems will not just beseech Hashem that he should get through Pesach, or just that there will be a cold peace in the house, something bearable, but he will pray that his life be filled with love and happiness, brotherhood, peace and friendship.

And one who needs to enjoy some Nachat (pleasure) from his children (and who doesn’t?), will not pray for the minimum that seems reasonable to him, but will ask Hashem to grant him the maximum amount of that pleasure!

Pesach, the holiday of redemption and freedom, is coming. Now is the time to take everything one step forward, to go beyond our limitations and constrictions, and leap over them into a redemptional way of thinking. I admit that in order to do so one needs more than a bit of “Jewish Chutzpah”, but it’s worth it.


My apologies for writing more than usual this week!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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