Loose Tongue In Cheek Thoughts
Anyone visiting our website last Tuesday morning
was greeted by this message:
# Defaced by DIabOlaX #
DH0 Crew: rooting your machines till die!
DIabOlaX - SgA3
::: uid=0(root) gid=0(root) :::
Security is Nowhere, Intelligence Everywhere
Challenge... I love this Game
USA and ISRAEL are Terrorists / ISLAM WINS / ALLAH AKBAR
Cradl3 the BIG Man - vXrooT - L4c0st3 - InVainCu - Kafka
Yes, our website meaningfullife.com was hacked. As soon
as we became aware of the problem, we immediately set in
motion our emergency measures. Our webmasters restored the
backup, and all was well.
Whew! That was close…
Ok, so now the Meaningful Life Center has merited being
up there with other major sites that hackers are targeting.
Or is it that Babylon has something against us?
I say Babylon even though the hackers’ mark only
mentions Islam and Allah. For some reason Babylon continues
to dominate the headlines.
Together with Israel the stage of today’s hostilities
is centered in Iraq, which is ancient Babylon. The quagmire
in Iraq gets deeper and deeper, with no end in sight. What
is it about this ancient region of Babylon that keeps entangling
us even today in our modern world?
I cannot fathom why Babylon would attack us. But then a
thought struck me.
A bit of Babylonian history first. The First Holy Temple
was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon 2426 years ago
(in the year 422 bce). This brought on what is commonly
called the Babylonian exile. Nebuchadnezzar expelled the
Jews from Israel and sent many of them off to Babylon.
This exile lasted 70 years, and then many Jews returned
with Ezra to Israel to rebuild the second Temple.
Despite this short period of exile, Babylon would become
a major Jewish center. The Jews later established Torah
academies in various Babylonian cities. These academies
gave birth to what is known as the Babylonian Talmud –
the vast work that is essentially the Torah’s legal
constitution. The Talmud is the single most important document
that lays out the framework for Torah laws, and for generations
since until today every word of the Talmud is studied and
analyzed the world over. It is the basis for all the codes
of law that specify how we must live our lives.
It seems quite strange that the name of the Talmud should
remain the “Babylonian Talmud” (Talmud Bavli).
Thousands of years have passed since the Babylonian destruction
and exile. What would this place become the name that would
always be identified with the Talmud?
For the record, there is another Talmud called the Jerusalemite
Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi), which was developed close to
the time of the Babylonian Talmud. But the Babylonian Talmud
is the final authority being that it is more comprehensive
and was finalized 100 years after the Jerusalemite Talmud.
The question intensifies when you discover the meaning
of the word Babylon. The Bible tells us that Babel (Babylon)
means confusion and chaos. It was so called following the
building of the Tower of Babel, because “from that
place G-d scattered them all over the face of the earth,
and they ceased building the city. Therefore He named it
Babel, because this was the place where G-d confused (balal)
the world’s language, and it was from there that G-d dispersed
[humanity] over all the face of the earth.”
Why then would we call the entire Talmudic corpus by the
Even though it’s true that the Talmud was developed and
composed in the Babylonian academies, why is it vital to
maintain a name that has such negative connotation, in addition
to being associated with the Babylonian destruction of the
Chassidic masters explain that the Babylonian Talmud is
unique in the process in which the laws are discussed. In
contrast to the Jerusalemite Talmud, which presents its
conclusions straightforwardly, the Babylonian Talmud presents
them through a relatively long series of debates, arguments,
and counter arguments, questions and counter questions,
until clarity is achieved. When you study the Talmud what
jumps out at you is the relentless analysis of every detail
in Torah thought and the blunt disputes amongst the sages
as they challenge each other to reach clarity.
The Babylonian Talmud epitomizes the ultimate intellectual
process of rigorous analysis that requires us to enter an
initial state of confusion and chaos that results from the
barrage of different arguments and counterarguments. But
it is precisely this process that allows us to achieve a
crystallized clarity that is derived directly from the muddle.
As we see in our thought process: The greatest clarity
comes only when you allow yourself to challenge an idea
from every possible angle, even ones that go against your
Thus, the name “Babylonian Talmud” captures the very nature
and power of this great body of work. Indeed, the development
of the Talmud took place geographically in a place that
is named “confusion” and one in which the sages found themselves
in exile, displaced form the sacred order of their lives
during the Temple period.
But all this chaos did not daunt them. On the contrary,
they saw it as a challenge; an opportunity to reach deeper
levels of clarity that emerge only from chaos and confusion.
And this message from Babylon is one that remains with
us through all the generations [The Talmud even discusses
how Babylon remains the place where we must stay until G-d
redeems us (see Jeremiah 27:22. Talmud Ketubot 110b-111a).
The confusion and chaos of Babel remains with us, and our
work is to infuse it with order] – a message that
teaches us the universal purpose of life:
We live in a fragmented and chaotic world. When we enter
it from birth we have no idea in which direction our lives
will take. So many unknown roads lay before us. Add into
the equation the corruption, selfishness, abuse and all
other human vices that we are exposed to in life, and we
are left with a sense of disorder and confusion. Some thinkers
go so far and argue that the natural state of the universe
is one of inherent chaos.
We have three choices: We can go into denial and live as
if everything is clear and organized. We can ignore the
chaos around us and try to create some cohesive and organized
order in our lives. The third and Torah option is that we
actually use the initial chaos and confusion, which is only
so on a superficial level, as a springboard and catalyst
to discover deeper unity. On the surface life may seem disorganized,
a set of random circumstances and it can leave us feeling
like its victims. In truth however, we have the power to
access the deeper unity that lies within if we allows ourselves
to see it though and recognize the patterns of Divine Providence
that led us in different directions, all to help us fulfill
our personal mission in life.
Perhaps this can be connected to this week’s Torah
portion, a double portion, in which we read the two chapters
of Tazria and Metzora. “Tazria” means “conceives”
in context of birth, “Metzora” means a leper.
Read together Tazria-Metzora would literally be translated
“conceiving a leper”! The Talmud tells us that
Moshiach will be a leper, because he has the power to transform
the diseases and chaos of this world into a new conception
– the birth of a new world order.
All these thoughts came to me as I was sitting and ruminating
over the hackers’ message on my computer screen. I
know that our website is minor when compared to the larger
global terrorism – in Israel and Babylon. But still
I saw this hacker attack as a microcosm that reminded me
of the larger issues at hand.
I can see the headline: 9/11 Bin Laden attacked America.
4/20 meaningfullife.com was attacked. Who’s next?
(Remember the tongue in cheek subtitle of this article).
As confusion grown in modern day Babylon (Iraq), ancient
events bring us a powerful message.
Babylon of old no longer exists. What was once a mighty
empire has long ago been destroyed, and we don’t even
know the descendants of Nebuchadnezzar and his nation. The
only thing that remains that still carries that name is
the Babylonian Talmud. And its message resonates loud and
clear, perhaps today more than ever:
Life is often very confusing. The unknown and the chaotic
often govern the universe. Yet we have a choice. We have
been given the power to bring light into a dark world, to
bring order into chaos – to actually transform the
confusion into an unprecedented clarity.
We do so by embracing our calling in life. Only when you
know that you have a unique mission can you discover the
underlying cohesiveness that defines your particular pattern.
As it is in business: Without a mission statement no company
can maintain focus, and inevitable conflicting forces will
fragment and destroy the company.
Your life is a jumble of musical notes, scattered all over
the place. Your job is to align them and allow them to play
your unique melody.