Friday, March 28, 2014

The Truth About Exteriors

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

This cliche may as well be the anthem of galus.

Here in exile, we’ve learned to take nothing at face value. G-d formed our physical world with an adulterous flair and fluid loyalties, an unstable plane of existence that either reveals the truth within or commits the ultimate betrayal. Because in this world, the vessel and its contents behave as two disparate entities, coexisting without true partnership.

Regarding ourselves as wise and and discerning, we cross-examine everything until it chokes out a confession. We squint at the pages of books so not to be led astray by the covers; we second-guess our allies and withdraw our trusting smiles.

Because this is galus, and what is true often hides.

But as we dissect the prose and proclaim “Aha!” with new unseen perspectives, the book and its cover still contend with a feverish aggression. The tension is enough to burst the stitches of their binding.

We like the game. We get a rush from the searching, the intellectual toil, the digging beneath the surface. We can call ourselves deep, say we are servants of G-d. We’ve found meaning in an apparently meaningless existence.

But Moshiach isn’t here yet. How can we feel satisfied if G-d isn’t?? The cover is still unsuited to the words on the pages.

We need to get down on the linoleum floor, scissors and glue in hand, and tear off the book bindings. We need to paste on new transparent covers that tell the real, unfiltered story. Our clothes might get dirty and we’ll get dust in our eyes, and we’ll often wonder if we’ve regressed to mindless childhood projects without rhyme or reason. But the job needs to get done.

It’s not enough to identify the inner layer. G-d wants the outer and inner layers to fall in sync with each other, an alignment of spiritual and physical that can only result from doing mitzvos. Both layers need to to commit to each other, and we are officiating the supernal wedding! The revealed world will vow to the hidden one, “If you give yourself to me, I’ll express your truth.”

Think we can’t judge a book by its cover? Just wait till Moshaich comes.

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