I’m not ashamed to admit that I love to read obituaries. Even if one isn’t all that interesting, at least it’s short. And they’re written for the uninitiated so they’re easy to understand. And they confirm an essential truth about life: it isn’t over til it’s over. The problem is that we never know when it will be over. But, until then, anything is possible.
Whenever I talk about the future, I always add the qualification that Moshiach’s arrival is going to change everything. This includes what we experience as death, and more importantly, what we experience as life. In the Messianic era, our physical nature will be permanently transformed into a G-dly nature; we will have no more urge to contravene G-d’s will any more than we now have an urge to breathe under water.
But, until that time, nobody manages to live forever. My question is, why is it so hard to plan accordingly?
I don’t know for sure, but I doubt that Donald Sterling ever learned Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, typically studied during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuos. It is a book of sayings, full of simple yet challenging advice on how to be a mensch.
He probably didn’t either know about counting the Omer, the 49 days of spiritual preparation that culminate in our receiving the Torah on Shavuos. In Temple times, the Omer was a sacrificial offering of barley made by every individual Jew on the second day of Pesach. The sacrifice of this meager, humble animal fodder acknowledges G-d as the bestower of all physicality and our commitment to refining our share of it, mainly ourselves. Jews are commanded to count daily in an attempt to examine and refine our very complex emotional components, striving to harness them through Torah and mitzvos, thereby fulfilling our purpose for being created in the first place. Otherwise, even if we are “naturally” refined, we haven’t harnessed ourselves to anything higher than ourselves and we remain animals. Refined animals, maybe, but animals nonetheless.
I don’t know why, but I feel bad for Donald Sterling. He started out as a precious Jewish baby and is now 80 years old, no youngster. One minute he’s a hotshot sports magnate and the next, his whole life has blown up in his face because his “acquaintance” secretly taped him making racist remarks.
It’s hard to say where his bad decisions started but they certainly seem to have caused a lot of people to dislike him. But even if everybody loved him, he wouldn’t be able to take his fancy cars or “acquaintances” with him to Heaven. Didn’t he realize that?
If anybody out there knows him, please forward my blog to him; if there’s ever a time he’d be interested in Judaism and spirituality, it’s now. Who knows? As I said, it isn’t over til it’s over.
Nothing happens by accident and it’s no accident that Donald Sterling’s fifteen minutes of infamy are occurring during the counting of the Omer, the time when all Jewish souls are naturally inclined towards self-improvement before our collective receiving of the Torah. Maybe enough of us will look at Donald Sterling and work to make the necessary spiritual changes so we don’t end up like him. We would benefit tremendously and so would everyone around us. As if that’s not enough, it might just provide the final touch-up for the world’s Ultimate transformation through the coming of Moshiach.
Until then, there’s a little Donald Sterling in all of us. We exploit others and others exploit us. There are those who are out to get us and our own bad decisions help them do it. In an instant, with a flash of the camera or a flick of the recording switch.
This makes the world a scary place that gets scarier every day. And the worst part is that G-d doesn’t want it to be this way.
He wants to “write the obituary” of the world as we know it, so a beautiful, perfect world can be born.
Judging from the saga of Donald Sterling, now is the perfect time to help Him do just that.