The Suspense Is Killing Them

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The Suspense Is Killing Them

By Harav Y. R. Rubin


“Team bonding” is the latest buzz in the corporate world. I came across this expression last week while walking in the forest!  I should explain that the end of the summer holidays sometimes calls for extraordinary measures when trying to find new things for bored grandchildren to do. Whilst wringing our hands, someone piped up with a brilliant suggestion: why not go to the nearby National Trust forest?

No sooner said than done, within moments we were all ensconced in the limousine making our way to what promised to be a great day out. Of course, we did get lost for over an hour-whatever became of that satnav I promised myself?- but then again that is expected when travelling with family Rubin. Upon reaching our destination, we were astonished: this was a forest, not your everyday urban sprinkling of shrubs, but a huge woodland with really high trees!


“With each youngster, we must start from the ground up; nothing can be taken for granted”


At the gates there was a bulletin board with listings of all the activities, one of which caught my eye. It read “Corporate Bonding, build your team by Going Ape”. Obviously, this bold statement intrigued me and upon asking I was told that in the depths of the forest was an intricate web of pathways that was strung out between the highest branches. The idea is that a group of people have to work together in traversing this pathway, or, as I was told, “going ape”. Without joint understanding the participants can’t complete the task. This enforced cooperation is what is meant by Corporate Bonding. Now I was very interested and inquired if there were any corporate managers hanging out in the trees or as the guide called it, “aping it”? I was shown a particular pathway and, lo and behold, upon looking up I saw a group of folk actually walking on flimsy looking rope bridges from one tree to the next. Now that takes guts, and every one of these brave souls deserves my greatest respect. But how do they do it, I asked myself. I then saw they are all attached to guide wires that are holding them up and even if they slip they really can’t come to much harm. Looking up at the heights of those large trees I learnt a lesson.

In life we must all work together with those around us. If we don’t, success will always be thwarted. However, beyond such cooperation there is something more that makes all the difference: we need to be attached above! Our guide wires need to be connected to something higher and only then can we hope to be safe.

Sadly, it is a fact that some of our brethren are stuck in the trees that comprise the forest of life without support or connection. They think they may be able to solve problems because, after all, others are handling difficult situations as well. In truth, what we perceive as coping may just be “aping” and if we aren’t connected to Hashem we are left in suspense and perilously so.

The tragedy of our era is that this connection has often been severed. Much is said about young people who seem to be drifting away from our holy heritage. Often the root cause of their disenfranchisement is that although they were aping others in the trees they were never taught how to be connected. With each youngster, we must start from the ground up; nothing can be taken for granted.

Before the heiliga tag of Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur we should analyze our predicament. Elul is a time when the Jewish soul yearns to cleave to its source. We must now ask ourselves if we are giving our young the resources to climb higher, to grow with confidence, or, using our metaphor, have we taught them about the guide wires that hold them?

There can never be a greater bonding than with Hashem. Sadly, too many of our youngsters need to know this as their reality, and if we fail in communicating this message to them, then we are dooming them to an existence far worse than just “going ape”.

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