Monday, July 20, 2009

Running After the Emptiness of the World and Becoming Empty

During this past weeks Haftarah, I was struck once again by the powerful words of the Navi Yirmiyahu (2:5), "וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרֵי הַהֶבֶל, וַיֶּהְבָּלוּ," "that they have gone after emptiness and become empty."

It made me think of the powerful mashal in the old Greek myth about the Sirens. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Greeks had a myth that sailors would hear the sound of beautiful women singing near certain islands at sea. They would be so drawn by the beauty of their voices that they would drive the ship in the direction of the voices where they would inevitably crash on the rocks from which the Sirens were singing. Ironically though, the Siren's weren't even women. They were strange birds with the heads of women that waited on the rocks, just to lure sailors to their deaths trying to reach them.

It wasn't bad enough that the sailors would be lured to their deaths in search of these beautiful Sirens. The beautiful women that they sought were not even beautiful women at all. Rather, they were merely strange, ugly creatures that were part bird and part human. They ended up not only destroying themselves, but destroying themselves for nothing, for an illusion of beauty.

It is the same with aveira and ta'ava. The things we desire seem so beautiful and enticing. But the reality is that not only do those pleasures destroy those who run after them, which most of us already know, but those Siren songs are absolute emptiness. There is nothing on the other side worth chasing after. It's all illusion, dimyon, and fantasy. None of it is real.

Especially in this time of the three weeks, may you and I become fully conscious of the fact that if we choose to go after the emptiness of this world, which is both false and destructive, we empty ourselves of everything good.

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A Simple Jew said...

I am glad to see you back to posting your original thoughts again!

Anonymous said...

Great post!