Feb 19, 2008

In the 1990s there was a TV ad for an insurance company which featured a young girl dressed up in her mother’s clothes saying “I want to be like Mummy”, followed by a little boy observing an insect and thinking “I want to be a slug (!)” and a disgruntled employee who confides, “I want to be my ownboss”. Finally the narrator explains: “You can be whatever you want to be... with Prudential”. In the real world though, things are never quite that simple.

Obviously, who we want to be is the most important issue in our lives. It defines our mindset and impinges upon everything we do. And one of the most influential determinants will be our choice of  role models. To quote the chorus of a popular Bonnie Tyler song: “I need a hero” - we all do, children and adults alike. Across societies and civilizations man has searched for the ideal hero to shape his world and fire his imagination. Ranging from revolutionaries to visionaries, from inventors to icons, they are our source of inspiration. Interestingly, the search for a hero psychologically can act as a mirror into my soul. What I admire in others often reveals the traits that I identify and admire within myself.

However, being aware that modern Western cultural idols are rarely worth the fuss that the media machine lavishes on them, what we need are authentic heroes, because it is not talent or success that makes a real hero; it is something deeper, something that identifies the person's uniqueness as a human being. And in the course of that search we end up with a startling find; namely that the best  heroes are the oldest ones 'in the book' (pun intended). Those biblical personalities, whose lives personify faith, honesty and commitment and who lived meaningful lives.

So that although the Bible is primarily a book to record Jewish Law, it reads as an unusual legal text; the laws are interwoven into the lives of the people who lived them. Which teaches us that the Jewish biblical heroes and the laws for Jewish living are interdependent - meaning we too could become real heroes someday.


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