Meant to Fly

Zachary Sitkin
September 30, 2012
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Nicki Minaj has a hit song entitled Starships and I must admit, despite the lyrics not being the most profound poetry, the chorus inspired me to rethink the story of Jonah. The song got me thinking about how every Yom Kippur afternoon, when our stomachs are rumbling like a 2 year old banging on a toy drum, we read the story of a timid man named Jonah, called upon by God, to speak to the evil people of Nineveh. The Hebrew reads like a Looney Toons sketch.  God commands Jonah to condemn the Ninevites for their wickedness and it follows, “’ה מלפני תרשישה לברח יונה ויקם”, “Jonah got up and fled to Tarshish from before God”. I get the image in my head of the Road Runner running at super speed away from Wile E. Coyote.

This brings me back to Starships’ chorus, for those of you who don’t know it, which goes as follows: “Starships were meant to fly, hands up and touch the sky”. The first million times I heard this song on the radio it simply appeared to be just another top 40 trying to make my tuches wiggle. However, the last time I heard it, I took new meaning from her words. Maybe it was writing this blog or maybe it was the upcoming holiday season but the chorus sunk in, I really listened to what she was saying. We all have a destiny. Whether we believe in a pre-determined destiny or whether we believe that we make our own, Nicki Minaj is right. Starships ARE meant to fly, that is the reason they are built. And, I believe that if anyone wants to be able to reach their full potential and fulfill their destiny they need to put their hands up and touch the sky, or in other words, reach for the stars. As for Jonah, what bigger purpose in this world could one have than serve God directly, if and when God calls upon you?

Regardless, Jonah was either too frightened or was too anxious, so he packed up his things and sprinted to Tarshish in the opposite direction. Whenever I read the story of Jonah it always reminds me of the song I would sing in Sunday school: “Jonah, Jonah living in the whale; tried to run away from God but that was bound to fail.” Jonah really teaches a lesson about fate, if you believe in that sort of thing, and how it’s impossible to escape who you truly are or what you are truly meant to accomplish.

This begs the question, how do I know what I am destined to do? In Jonah’s case, it seems relatively clear. God told the guy. But for the rest of us, it doesn’t seem so clear all the time.  According to a study done by the University of California Berkeley, the average person has 5 to 6 different careers in their life. (

Yet everyone ends up where they end up. Apparently, it takes a person time and introspection to realize what they are meant to do. It took Jonah three days and nights sitting in the dingy, disgusting belly of a whale until he finally realized what he needed to do. Perhaps Nicki Minaj was on to something.  Unlike Jonah, you cannot be afraid to reach for the stars. Maybe, you have to look inside and take the plunge; only then will you realize that you are a starship and that you are meant to fly.

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Zachary Sitkin is a Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a Philadelphia native, and was recently married to his beautiful wife Lisa. They are both moving to Israel for the academic year together. Zachary graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor's in Psychology and Religious Studies. He often describes himself as an avid sports fan and rabbinic enthusiast.

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