I was recently called arrogant by a Shabbos guest.
I didn’t object, because maybe I’m arrogant, but I have the humility to admit it.
But here’s what else is arrogant: assuming you’re smart enough to not fall for a kiruv-style proof of God.
Here’s one of the main ones: Would the entire Jewish people possibly fall for the scam that God revealed himself to the whole nation at the top of a smoking mountain?
Ideally you follow up with a nice ego boosting compliment: You’d be too smart to fall for something like that.
Seal the deal with some supremacy: Jews have been accused of many things, but no one’s ever called the Jews stupid!
Sum it all up with the exclusivity claim: This claim of public revelation is so outlandish that no other religion has ever claimed it! Since it’s never happened any other time, it must be impossible to convince an entire group of people of something that delusional!
Or, maybe Jews are extra delusional.
Case in point: they believe that God came and spoke to the entire nation from the top of a mountain. How crazy is that? No one else would have come up with, or believed, something that insane!
Now, to be clear, I don’t think being delusional is all bad. I think delusion plays a part in every entrepreneurial venture. And Jew, as any Kiruv rabbi will be very quick to tell you, have had a disproportionate impact on the world: science, art, politics, technology, human rights, and corruption, to name a few.
The ability to conceive of anything other than what already is, to come up with a better way that no one has done before, requires “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument”. This is the definition of delusion.
It’s also a key part of storytelling, which Jews have also been great at.
Look at Hollywood. Look at the bible. I’m looking at you, Ezekiel, with your tales of four headed-angels and eyeball-lined-wheels. I want what you’ve been taking.
Then we had to fuck it all up and believe it was real.
Some people point to the return of the Jews to Israel as divine proof and a fulfillment of prophecy. I see it as an expression of a multi-generational entrepreneurial delusion. Isaiah came up with a vision, and everyone bought into it so well that, 2,000 years later, they implemented it.
Certainly noteworthy. Certainly unusual.
A sign of the divine.
Or, a sign that you’re extra delusional.
(To think that you can make a claim to a country that you lived in as a people 2,000 years ago? You kidding me? Any kindergartner understands that that’s not how things work. I believe a Jewish national claim to the land was completely unjustified. Now that they are there, Israel has a right to exist, like every country founded on the oppression of local natives; but the premise under which they manipulated world powers to allow it to happen was, well, delusional.)
So, are Jews unique? Yes, they are. They are uniquely delusional. This comes with a lot of good, along with some bad and some ugly.
A key part in working with schizophrenic clients is helping them recognize that they have delusions. If they can make the shift into understanding that not everything they see is real, it becomes easier for them to navigate life.
So, Jews of the world: wield your traits wisely. You’re not better, or worse. You’re different.
You don’t have a mission, you have a talent; a penchant for seeing and believing that which isn’t there. And as any artist will tell you, talent is always a double-edged sword.
Create change, if you’re inspired to. Make good things never previously conceived of.
But also remember that not every story is real, and not every venture is worth bringing to life.
It’s better that way.