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Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 15 Cheshvan 5782
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Making Deserts Bloom
Deserts are no longer a distant ecological phenomenon. Today there is a growing recognition that desertification is an international problem. Desertification is defined as a decline in soil fertility and water tables in arid regions. It is usually caused by human activity, mainly by over-exploitation of natural resources. About 45% of the continental surface is now threatened by desertification—almost half of the earth’s land mass! Desertification brings in its wake many social problems such as hunger, resettlement and wars.

Droughts, famine and the dislocation that came in their wake have been part of the human experience since the days of Abraham. When the Jews left Egypt they spent 40 years wandering in the desert, a place of “snakes, scorpions and thirst, where there is no water, a place of no inhabitants.” What’s interesting is that in the desert they were able to shed the habits of idol-worship and superstition that had clung to them since Egypt, where they became purified and ready to receive the Torah.

The generation born in the desert, in no-man’s-land, was cleansed of the depravity of Egyptian culture. They were the first generation completely free of Egyptian influence.

Our generation in many respects is similar to the generation born in the desert. The false ideologies that gripped the world in the first half of the 20th century no longer seem relevant today. Imperialism, communism, socialism, capitalism—all have had their chance to be tried on the world stage, and all have come up deficient in one respect or another. We may be better off economically and materially than any previous generation, but we face a startling gap in meaning, morals, values and purpose. Our generation is quickly descending into a vapid pop-culture that knows only the latest tweet or viral video, with no sense of the past or vision for the future. Our previous sources of spiritual and moral inspiration have dried up, leaving us empty and dry.

Precisely because of the emptiness of our generation—finally free of the foolishness of the previous generations, but with nothing to take its place—we are in a unique position to receive, to absorb truth which was always there but waiting for an opportunity like this one to finally be recognized and appreciated. Now that we’ve exhausted all our other options, we are ready to take another look at the age-old truths in the Torah. We are prepared to receive the Torah once again, without misconceptions or re-interpretations. The Torah—all of it—is ours for the taking.

The world is ready, and we certainly are. We are now only awaiting the revelation of Moshiach, G-d’s representative on earth, who will take the earth’s parched spiritual soil and make it bloom again.


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