Kvetching – The Blame Game 2
There is a complex in Switzerland known as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where something called the Large Hadron Collider has been sputtering into operation. Its purpose is to discover whether a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson (called by some, “The God Particle) exists. There is far-fetched, yet widespread apprehension that a black hole created there could swallow the entire universe. If you are reading this you can be certain that either they have yet to create a Higgs boson, or that a particle with less mass than a second generation quark has not swallowed our planet. Not yet. (John Olson – Strange Matter)
The $9 billion machine has been riddled with problems. Bad electrical connections caused a quench that damaged 53 of the magnets. One of the physicists working there has been accused of having links to Al Qaeda. People have begun to wonder if all the delays and complications aren’t owing to a more preordained cause. A pair of CERN physicists have somewhat whimsically suggested that the reason for building the collider might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple back through time and stop the collider before it could make a Higgs boson.
Anxious people think strange things. As scientists attempt to discover the nature of physical reality, people who do not understand what they are doing, nor, why, are so lost that they begin to worry about strange and unlikely possibilities. People who do not understand consider the Promethean goal of the collider to be no less ambitious than Victor Frankenstein. We are frightened by what we do not comprehend. We cannot grasp something that seems so beyond our ken.
It must have been challenging to experience the exodus, the Splitting of the Sea, eating Manna, drinking magical water from Miriam’s Well, living inside the protection of the Clouds of Glory. We know how frightened the Children of Israel were at Revelation.
They were safe as long as they lived within a self-contained world. Once they began to move toward crossing over into the Land, with all the trumpets, movement, Clouds, and the Ark, they realized that their self-contained world was on its last legs. They began to focus on the fact that something far beyond their understanding was happening. The movement of the Ark was their Large Hadron Collider. They were confused. They were anxious. They simply wanted to kvetch.
They faced a challenge equal to, if not greater than, Revelation: They would have to use everything they learned and experienced to live a “normal” life. Some rose to the occasion. Many simply went along. A group of opportunists began to kvetch, and watched their misery speed through the camp faster than a particle beam.
If only they had blamed Moses or God for something! As my dear and honored friend Rav Moshe Stepansky points out in his comments to The Blame Game: 1.When one assigns blame (whether fairly or not) one activates the psychological mechanism of closure that allows you to move on with your life.
2.Even while assigning blame to someone else, one is still applying a cognitive process of cause and effect. This cognitive process may open oneself up to reflect inwardly and contemplate whether there is personal culpability -stirrings of T’shuvah.
3.Conversely,if one just hangs out and gripes about the situation without assigning blame, one gets mired in inaction and very well may fall into despair.
4.Inaction and despair team up to create a warped view of reality.
Moses had nurtured these people from their spiritual birth into adults ready to step into a new world, a new life, unimaginable heights. He could deal with blame. He could not deal with kvetching.
God responded with the appointment of the Seventy Elders and the “Slav.” I suspect that the 70 was a clue for some, and the “Slav,” a response to others.
To Be Continued…
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