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Rose petals and potato kugel: a fantasy.


For those of you who are considering moving to a Chinese Buddhist monastery, let me explain how the dynamic works over there.

The following scenario is hypothetical: Let us say that there is this Chinese fellow named Lang, and he is something special – brilliant and creative. And everything he does, he does for the glory of his G-d (sic), whom he sees as Heaven. He does not know His Name, but he thinks he knows what He wants from Lang. And Lang thinks he is accomplishing great things for the glory of Heaven. But one day, Lang realizes that all the people who ever accomplished anything for the glory of Heaven were strong people. Abraham was a tower of strength. Moses was a tower of strength. David, a tower of strength. And so forth. And Lang realizes that he is not a tower of strength. He knows himself and he knows that he is a worm, emotionally weak, a liar and a bit of a coward. So Lang (remember, he has a brilliant mind) reasons, “If I am weak, then I must not be accomplishing for the glory of Heaven, at all. It must be a dimyon (vain imagining), and really I am glorifying a fantasy of my own making, a false god.  And it is better not to accomplish at all than to be accomplishing for a false god.”

So Lang drops out of the world and seeks a life in a Chinese Buddhist monastery so as to cause no more of his perceived damage to the world. Lang spends the rest of his life meditating, practicing martial arts, and gardening. He remains celibate because he does not want to father offspring who will cause damage to the world. According to Lang’s reasoning, it is better to have no impact on the world than a negative one. (in the meantime, he is perfecting his body, refining his character traits, expanding his consciousness, and growing roses).

With that as prelude, I want to tell you something important that really happened.

I used to live in the Rova Yehudi, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. In those days, I davened exclusively at the Kotel Maaravi – shacharit, mincha and maariv (morning, afternoon, and night). And between mincha and maariv, which was about 20 minutes, I would sit and learn and talk with three Chassidim with long payos and beards, black coats, dorky looking black hats, and portly stomachs. They may not have been everyone’s taste in humans, but I thought they were great guys, intelligent, learned, and the discussions were pleasant and lively, and always in Torah.

So, there we were sitting at the Kotel late one afternoon between mincha and maariv, at a time when a soft blue-gray light bathes the stones of the Kotel. That day, the place was unusually empty, only about a hundred or so locals and a Polish tour group. Suddenly, we see three Chinese Buddhist monks entering the plaza area and approaching the Western Wall. The three monks were gliding more than walking. They moved along the plaza floor as if cushioned on air, like three hovercrafts. Each one wore a long brown satin robe that almost touched the ground, hiding their feet. They had hard, lean faces with sculpted bronze cheekbones. And they wore the funny cardboard kippot that the Kotel gives out to visitors so they should have their heads covered.

Our mouths dropped open as we watched the three monks glide majestically along the marble floor. Then, we looked at ourselves, with our big bellies full of potato kugel. All four of us went through an instant self-evaluation, comparing ourselves to the monks, and we did not come out too good. They glowed with light and oozed with discipline. And we sat there with our bellies and oozed with ooze.

It was an intense moment of silence. So I broke it, and said, “Yes, but we have Shabbos and they don’t. We have G-d’s blessing. We know G-d’s Name.” And everybody said, “Whew.”  

At that moment, I realized the importance of becoming a light unto the nations. We have to teach the Name of G-d to Lang. We have to show Lang that he can do more for the world than avoid damaging it. He can fix it and elevate it. We have to take Lang to the Temple of temples, the place where G-d has chosen for His Name to dwell.

It is not enough to teach Lang the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah, which are:

Do not worship idols

Do not blaspheme G-d.

Do not murder.

Do not steal.

Do not engage in sexual perversion

Do not eat a limb taken from a living animal.

Do not fail to establish just courts of law.

These Seven Laws comprise man’s basic responsibility to G-d, but something is missing. Lang has to believe in G-d. And the Seven Laws do not require this. Therefore, we have to take Lang to the place where G-d has chosen for His Name to dwell. What does it mean “for His Name to dwell?” His Name is the Shechina, the revelation of the Creator of Heaven and earth.  

When those three skinny monks and the four chubby Jews go up to the other side of the Western Wall and enter the Third Temple, and see the revelation of the Shechina, the ultimate purpose of creation will be fulfilled. Then G-d will dwell among all mankind in a revealed state, “And the nations will know that I am the Lord, Who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever (Ezekiel 37:28)." This is Geulah, the Final Redemption.

You wanted to know your purpose in having been brought into the world? Now you know it.

Sheyibanah Beit HaMikdash b’imherah b’yameinu, amen. May it be the will of G-d to build the Holy Temple speedily in our days, amen.


Chaim Clorfene