K A H A N E
The magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea
September 1978 Elul 5738
THE LONG AND THE SHORT
[This article written in 1978 like all other articles written by Rabbi Kahane is timeless. Rabbi Kahane always spoke of “democracy” changing in the blink of an eye. It all depends on the society and their problems. “The Long And he Short” describes the “Wall Street Occupiers” and so many like them. For the frustrations and unhappiness many feel in America today they blame “big business,” “Jews on Wall Street,” “Jews in America,” one teacher occupier told Jews to leave the country and go to Israel. Unfortunately, others agreed. Some do not even know what they are against. They voted for Obama to make changes, without looking into the changes he will make. Now they want instant solutions. bg]
In the end, there is only the individual. If the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts, know that the geometric axiom serves for a Divine illumination of the realities of the world. Ours is an era of instant solutions, the product of the loss of stability, anchor, certainty. The truths and verities of centuries have melted away before what was universally believed would be the Springtime of Man. The season changed and it was enough to wipe away the beliefs and values of a thousand and yet another thousand years but the warmth and paradise, the secular Nirvana and millennium, never appeared. We asked for freedom; we demanded freedom; we climbed the barricades for freedom – and we received it, only to find, to our horror that we did not know what to do with it. We cried for “rights” and they appeared – and the world became not one bit better than before.
The Liberalism that destroyed the Divine right of monarchy did not produce a better world and the democracy that brought universal suffrage did not create a kinder Man and the communism that railed against the evil of bourgeoisie-nationalism and democracy, did not bring Man happiness or peace.
All the fruits of progress and rationalism; all the harvests of science and humanism; all the things that promised to put an end to Man’s unhappiness and suffering and enslavement – all have failed and Man remains as unhappy and as enslaved as ever.
For by the very nature of desire to be “free” and to be “happy” Man guarantees the impossibility of a better world. The obsession with self, the pandering to materialism and self-gratification, the glorifying of the “I” and the ego, must, by the very nature of the human beast, lead to further need and further demand for “more.” Self-gratification is salt water that quenches the thirst of ego for but a moment and then produces the need-greater than before – for yet more water, for yet more gratification. There is no end to it and the expectations can only rise, together with the increased inability to sacrifice and do without. No man was ever more a slave than in our era when self-love and narcissism chain man to the demands of his body.
And so, a slave to his material and narcissistic needs; bewildered by the host of utopias that failed and the solutions that proved to be bitter delusions, lost and drifting, with no authority or ideological compass. Man frantically and frequently seeks solutions – instant, immediate, now. A child of the century of confusion and immaturity, unable and unwilling to postpone gratification or to slowly and carefully build the tower of truth, he demands his Nirvana now.
And so he seizes the short road that must inevitably prove to be long. He climbs the barricades to change the “system.” If it is capitalism, let us establish socialism and if it is communism let us build private enterprise. If it is a monarchy let us have a republic and if it is a liberal, national bourgeoisie, we must have in its place a proletarian people’s government. Foolish, frantic, frightened, lost souls. Of course it cannot be. Of course you cannot change a world by changing the “system” or the “society.” For there are not such concepts! They do not exist! Show me a system; let me touch it; let me feel it. The whole is non-existent as an entity unto itself. It comes into being only through the sum and substance of all the individuals that compose it. If the individuals are selfish, grasping, stupid and pigs – that is the kind of society you will have, automatically, inexorably.
You seek a better world? You want a better “society?” Take the parts and make them good and you will have it. Make man, each individual one, good and you will have your good world no matter what name you give the system. That is the only way; there is no other. It is the long way that is short; it is the only road that leads not to a dead end. You say it is impossible to create this? Perhaps, though I would rather say, extraordinarily difficult. But if it is impossible, cease your games and your illusions. Neither the establishment, nor the rebels; neither the ‘outs’ nor the ‘ins’ neither the defenders of the status quo nor the revolutionary militants and activists, will change anything.
Of course seek to change things and make them better. But beware of those who speak in terms of glory and love and revolution and throwing out the Establishment. Look at them and study them. Speak to them and search them. Are they good people? I mean, are they personally decent and fine and people of mercy and kindness? Do they love the general people and hate each and every individual? Do they love “Jews” the plural and speak with viciousness of each individual? When they weep for the poor have you ever known them to reach into their pockets and give their tithe of charity.” Does the purple mantle of love, cloak a hater? Is there a need to hate rather than a drive for compassion?
Struggle against injustice and inequity and never accept them but beware the loud and strident “liberators.” Too often, the ‘out’ climbs the barricades against the ‘in’ only because he seeks to exchange places with him and if he should ever succeed we would discover in him the same dreadful qualities of the one he ousted. Only the good and the kind and the compassionate man can change things. The other – the loser, the self-hate, the unstable and the one eaten by envy and the need to destroy is the kind to avoid, from whom you should flee. No better world will emerge from him. In the end, there is only Man, the individual. If he is good, so will be his world. If not, there is no hope.
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