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The Observant Jew: The Truth about Getting High

The Observant Jew: The Truth about Getting High

The Observant Jew

The Truth about Getting High

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

When I was deciding what I could bring my daughter for visiting day, I realized she had plenty of junk food.  She had reading material (including a copy of my book, though she lent it to her counselor to read) and she had tutus and suspenders and funky accessories.  I tried to think of something we could enjoy together.

I remembered how much fun we’d had flying a kite together and thought that might be something I’d bring.  I didn’t end up finding one, but it did get me to thinking about it.  When people are flying kites, there’s a certain aura of excitement around them.  People stand around and look at them high up in the air, dancing in the atmosphere, and are a bit awe-struck.

Now, when you start to fly a kite, it’s not so pristine.  First of all, the kite has to be aerodynamically-designed to get lift.  Some designs are easier to get off the ground than others.  It’s not enough to just cut a shape out of cardboard and tie a string to it.  I know, because I tried it when I was younger.

Once you’ve got a kite that’s made for flying, you have to give it enough string to be free to rise, but not so much that you can’t get the necessary tension for liftoff.  Now for some artificial wind.  Taking one end of the string, you start running, creating airflow and hopefully lifting the kite up in the air.  If the kite is angled incorrectly, it will end up thudding along the ground as if bouncing unceremoniously on its head.  Instead of going up, you’ve arranged for it to go down.  Let’s fix that and rearrange the flight path.

Ah… now you’ve got it going up in the air.  You need to let out more string.  Wait!  Not so fast.  If it isn’t taut, the kite will flounder, lose its heading, and crash to earth.  That’s it, a little at a time.  And here comes the glorious moment of the flight…

The kite has now reached an altitude at which the updrafts and wind seventy-five, a hundred, or two hundred feet high, work to keep pressing it higher.  It suddenly becomes easier to fly the kite.  Now, you’re not running with it anymore.  Instead, you’re keeping a close eye on it and making little adjustments as necessary.  Pull the string a little here, give it a little more leeway there, and start enjoying the admiration of the crowd that has most likely gathered to watch your success.

And this, my friends, like nearly everything else in this world, is an analogy for life.  We’re all kites.  Some of us are a little more cut out for speedy takeoff, and some of us need a little more work.  Which way we’re headed is important because if our goals are not properly directed, we’ll end up ignominiously bumping our heads on the road of life.

We can’t be let loose because it’s precisely the tension and resistance, whether in the realm of refining our midos and character traits, or maybe fighting our natural tendencies when it comes to performing mitzvos, that lift us up and help us go higher.

On the other hand, we must be given enough room to grow and not be kept on such a tight leash that we can’t catch the wind under our wings to fly.  If too tied down, we’ll never get off the ground.

And now comes the secret you’ve been waiting for; the truth about getting high.

You see, once you get above a certain level, IT GETS EASIER!  That’s right.  When you rise to a sufficient height in your self-refinement that you’re now surrounded and supported by others at that altitude, you don’t have to work as hard.

If you’ve been working on proper speech, not being negative or cynical, not using vulgarity or gossip, you’ve likely migrated towards a circle of friends who are like-minded.  Together, you each share the burden of watching your tongues and you lift each other so it’s easier to maintain your lofty state.

And repetition helps too.  For example, when I first started listening to Torah lectures in the car, I could handle it for a few minutes but then I needed some music or news. However, as I continued to listen, I would be able to enjoy it for the full commute. It got to a point where if I didn’t put on the Torah CD, I’d feel like something was missing.  That was the benefit of Mr. Kite: that when we’re uplifted, we have HaShem’s assistance to keep us upwardly mobile.

So, when life sometimes feels like a struggle, like you’re banging your head and getting nowhere, adjust your attitude and direction, give it another shot, and pretty soon you’ll be flying high. Oh, yeah: and then everyone will stand around and marvel at your success.


Jonathan Gewirtz is an inspirational writer and speaker whose work has appeared in publications around the world.  You can find him at www.facebook.com/RabbiGewirtz and follow him on Twitter @RabbiJGewirtz. He also operates JewishSpeechWriter.com, where you can order a custom-made speech for your next special occasion.  Sign up for the Migdal Ohr, his weekly PDF Dvar Torah in English. E-mail info@JewishSpeechWriter.com and put Subscribe in the subject.



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