Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why do I blog?

I do not expect ever to make any money from this blog nor can I realistically expect any recognition without disclosing my identity. Much as I love my readers I do not crave their admiration enough to risk hurting my wife and children nor even my own precious hide. I am not under any illusions that a massive tide swell of positive and long overdue change will come about as a result of my writing. So why, you ask, do I blog?

In every community or group of people you have the natural born leaders. They are the ones that seem to become the center of every conversation they join, spontaneously consulted by everybody whenever changes are to be made. They will be stuck up for when they get into trouble and they will win most of their arguments. Some people hate them for this but in fact they cannot help being leaders any more than their followers can help following. They tend to come in various flavours and there can be no doubt that, just as a charismatic Rebbe guides an entire flock of lambs, a leader who harbours laidigayer tendencies is very likely to spawn a slew of laidicrawlers behind him or her. This is why the teachers who argue for the expelling of such laidigayers from our institutions always seem to bristle with such righteous indignation.

The followers are the great mass of mindless sheep who obey orders instinctively. Whose life’s goal, it seems, is to fit into any society they happened to fall in. They can often be recognized by their beatific expressions and manifestations of religious devotion to their Rebbe’s God if their Rebbe happens to be their own leader or their leader’s. Of course you will also have those who will blindly and religiously follow a nutcase or persuasive laidigayer with strong leadership qualities. The followers too can only partly be blamed for the wrongs (and rights) they do in this context. Indeed I believe some zealot rams are going to be sorely disappointed by the meagerness of their reward in the kingdom come.

These two groups account for most people in our society. Within a community like Chassidus which frowns deeply upon any form of non-conformism and roundly condemns eccentricity and self-expression there is little room for leaders except those that want to act as shepherds for the gentleman farmers who prefer to sit on their thrones and keep their hands clean. The few who cannot contain their burning desire to lead and are unimpressed by the promised sojourn in the warm embrace of hell do indeed surround themselves by the pathetic cohorts who either are similarly unimpressed by punishment to come or find they prefer a bird on their hand and two in the bush.

The Shaigetz does not belong in either. He is a real individualist. He is too clever to be a sheep and much too clever to be shepherd. He skirts the field, sticking close to the fence. He knows there are wolves outside and possibly has met them and reached a personal understanding with them. The members of his family are sheep though and he prefers to keep them safe among the flock. He has to keep his knowledge to himself because the shepherds know he could run rings round them if he wanted to. So he is a lonely creature at times. With his wide-angle lens he sees truths others cannot see and his dedication to the religion is no less than that of the sheep. Indeed it is stronger, because instead of being led by the love for his shepherd or the farmer he swears allegiance to the King Himself.

So next time you come across someone who is little different than the others; One who occasionally lets slip an idea that might not mesh completely with the accepted viewpoint, listen and take note. He is a Shaigetz and his knowledge carries weight. Indeed he might be me.

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