So I went to the speech, because, you know, night out and some torah thoughts to float around in my cereal-mush-mommy-head. And I came home really disturbed. And not just because I acted on the impulse to jump into the ankle-deep puddle in front of the building (oh, the freedom of giving in to a childish impulse! Oh the joy of a good splash! Oh the greater joy of soaking my sister innocently walking next to me!) but because the message of the speech resonated in me like a lightly applied dentist drill to the tips of my teeth. Or something else that is grating and has an off-key pitch.
He was a good story-teller and told story after story after story. But then he told a story about a great rabbi (no, I don't remember which one. But if you want, I can pull a name out of my Rabbi-Story hat. Chofetz Chaim. There ya go!) who was flying (airplanes...oh...well, I guess I should have a 20-21st century rabbi hat so that my stories make good historical sense) over the Niagra Falls. A talmid called out, "look Rebbe, look!" And he refused to look. He continued looking at his gemara. The talmid said, look Rebbe, look! It's niflaos haborey, the wonders of G-d!" The Rabbi pointed at his sefer and said, "This is niflaos haborey."
Me. No, Likey. And I'll tell you why.
After the speech, I said as such to a friend sitting next to me. She said, "He meant, on your own level, you know."
I said, "No, I do not know! I don't think that this is a level to be aspiring to!"
She said, "you don't believe that Chofetz Chaim/Rabbi Moshe Feinstien/Rav Sheinberg was a huge tzaddik??"
I said, "I believe (pick a name) was a huge tzaddik. I just don't believe the story."
And it's not possible! Moshe Rabbeinu, Dovid Hamelech, etc, etc, gentle shepherds all, living in nature, gleaning G-dliness from nature. Avraham Avinu, who discovered the entire Torah through nature! How can you close your eyes to it and give over the impression that it's a waste of time?!
And some more ?? and !!
Historically, people living as farmers, surrounded all day by endless land and sea and sky were more G-d-fearing than their city-dwelling cousins. Look at a political map of the US, even today, and realize this phenomenon. The beautiful world around us is created directly from Hashem in the first 6 days of creation! It's a canvas painted just for our human eyes to drink in.
Outdoorsman loves fishing. And I love taking pictures of how he looks knee-deep in clear waters, fly rod in hand. There is something so deeply naturally spiritual about being one with the world, of taking your place in the circle of life. My best shacharis is always after a night of camping under the stars.
There is a story that I like much, much better. Of Reb Zushia (I think. I think it's him. Maybe instead of a hat, I should get a Rabbi-Story database) who wanted to go to Switzerland before he died. When his talmidim asked why, he replied, "because after I die, the Creator of the universe to ask me, 'Zushia, have you seen my Alps?' and I want to answer, 'yes. Mah rabu maasecha Hashem. How wondrous are Your works, oh G-d."