Jiminy Cricketís 101
By Adam Bergman
"Let your conscience be your guide." This to me is truly an outstanding quote that will remain for generations. How does one interpret this quote or understand its great significance? Well, you might say that youíll need to understand yourself before knowing its true power. Obviously that is easier said than done but the attempt makes all the difference in the world.
What most of you probably want to know is what exactly does the Torah expect of us? The Torah is full of laws involving sacrifice and technical aspects of Judaism. Nonetheless, I believe that the Torah is truthful at its core, but how do you utilize its teachings and history in a spiritual sense? I feel the best way you can do this is live every day to the fullest or live each moment as if it were your last.
If we attempt to make every moment of every day count, then it is in our best interest to understand the principal of hermeneutics. This simply is the study of how one interprets and is interpreted, which can be looked at in many different ways. For example, how does one handle defeat? My wrestling and cross country/track coaches both gave the same lectures to our teams before a meet or match. Each time they both quoted the same ideas, which stated that you are judged by how you lose, not by how you win. I took this to mean that I would be defeated at some point, and I definitely had my share of defeat in athletics. However, the main purpose of the defeat is to analyze it and come back stronger the next time.
What this entails is that we are not perfect beings and I feel that God wanted it that way. If we were truly perfect in everything that we did, then would God exist to us or would we even give the Torah a thought? I cannot really say yes or no, but I can say that it would definitely be tougher to be thankful for what we have.
A story that I feel can describe this involves my Bobba. She always attended these meetings at my synagogue that discussed miscellaneous issues with the synagogue as a whole. On a cold night several years ago, a homeless man came in during one of these meetings and asked for a cup of coffee. The rabbi and the congregation turned him away and requested that he not come back. Bobba immediately left the meeting, went outside with the man and gave him the only money she had - a quarter. She then apologized to him for their actions and gave him directions to a coffee shop about a block away. In my mind, this is a true act of Judaism simply because of the kindness and selflessness she displayed. Bobba could not read Hebrew, but she definitely knew in her heart what was expected from her in the Torah and from God.
Being selfless also points in the direction of understanding each other. Since it is evident that we all make mistakes, we are compelled to forgive each other. We need to understand that we are all on the same team and it is in our best interest to lend a helping hand when need be. How can we truly understand the Torah at its core if we are always holding grudges against each other or refusing to talk after a relationship problem or any other issue that arises? When people stand alone in being unforgiving, they are like delicate snowflakes. Nonetheless, we have seen what snowflakes can do when they stick together, and forgiveness produces the same type of transformation.
I can say that I have definitely had my fair share of sins, some of which have made me feel condemned for life. However, life is a learning experience for all of us, meaning that forgiveness may be just around the corner. This particular learning experience may lead to more discoveries, some of which I could never fathom. Being able to overcome an obstruction that looks easy, but ends up being very difficult, is where the Torah gives you new ideas.
These thoughts may include, "Well, I guess life isnít going to be that easy. However, I can make it easier by using the brain that God has given me. Iíll use it to fix the problem I have been having with that guy I was once close to. Iíll use it to help others and do something fantastic with my life."
Since God gave all of us brains, it is in Godís best interest that we accomplish this. In return, it is in our best interest to attempt to accomplish it so we can show God what we have learned from the Torah and Judaism.
However, with a little help from the Torah and the little guy on your shoulder - what is his name? Oh yeah, Jiminy Cricket! - you will overcome the obstacles that make you feel that everything is working against you. Heís the one who has begun hollering at me since Iíve started taking the Torah and Judaism to heart. Let me ask him a question before he leaves.
"Hey Jiminy, Why is it that there is so much evil that has been happening to me lately?"
"Well Adam, let me tell you something. I once heard Edmund Burke say: ĎThe only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.í Basically, understand that you are human (unlike me) and you must stare evil down and become most aggressive when it is your path. So I say to you Adam, the fact that you can hear me lets me know that Judaism means something to you. Since Judaism means something to you, the Torah definitely does. So what are you waiting for? GO FOR IT!!!"
When we look at ourselves and the type of people that we have become and will become, we wonder, how did we get this way? Sometimes I think to myself, what was it that really made me want to be an engineer or a Naval Aviator? Is it just pure chance that God put that will in my mind or was there something more? To answer this, you simply need to look at your faith and understand what your real goal in life is. As a child, it was just to pull 9 G-Forces of gravity and travel at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound for non-technical folks). However, as I became a Bar Mitzvah and matured into my college years, it became more than that. I started seeing a bigger picture, which involved utilizing my abilities to help and to protect the rights of others.
Before you all leave, Jiminy has one last thing to say!
"Just follow me and youíll know the real truth in the Torah and how it has impacted your life. Once you have found me, kick in the afterburners and achieve your destiny!"
"Just a little secret that Adam told me. He sees the big picture of the Torah and Judaism the most when he dances the skies on laughter-silvered wings. What about you?"
Adam Bergman is a junior double majoring in electrical and computer engineering in St. Louis, MO. After graduation, Adam hopes to participate in the Anna Sobel Levy fellowship which is a one year graduate program at the Hebrew University which involves U.S/Israeli relations. After that, he plans on pursuing service as an Officer in the U.S. Navy and after the service, he'd like to work for NASA aiding in the development of life support systems for long term space travel. Some of his hobbies include percussion, aviation, University of Missouri - Engineering Student Council, NROTC, and being Jewish Awareness Month Co-Chair for the Jewish Student Organization.