Affirming Life: The Journey of Personal Leadership

Yoni A. Dahlen
April 26, 2013
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For millennia the frightening reality of existence has forced the greatest minds into submission.  The genesis of philosophy, science, art, religion came into being for the sake of confronting the impossible, and today only the naive and desperate claim that significant ground has been made.  Life evades all rules and boundaries.  It laughs and dances as creation gropes blindly to contain it.  The existentialist succumbs to despair, the mystic prays for transcendence – both the positivist and negativist yearn for an alternative reality, to deny the splendor of creation.

Living Man chooses to affirm the chaos, to walk through the unknown, not with conviction, but with courageous fear.  She questions her journey with every step, but she refuses to fade into darkness.  Living Man knows not her destination.  She is guided and placated only by love.  As the leader of her existence, she is given the tools to navigate the abyss.  It is through the encounter of Life, that she is rewarded, through the encounter of Life she believes in the imperative nature of her journey.  Her I screams for a Thou, and her call does not go unanswered.  The encounter illumines her next step and gently pushes her forward.

Along the path she is confronted by the hopeless, the followers of rejection and escape.  She sees them striding confidently, each step placed with more force than the one before it.  But when she meets their gaze, she finds nothing but tears and surrender, trembling pupils to frightened to blink.  Their leaders have vanished.  They are alone.

The edifice of time towers over the humble skeleton of space, but there lie between the two, endless tunnels and bridges.  Living Man refuses to neglect either palace, for both are her home.  She steps into one thankful that it exists for the sake of the other.  Both loom with unwavering intimidation, but together they serve as the paradigm for her own journey.  Their construction continues, and every day she celebrates the newly discovered bricks.  She gives to her palaces awe, and her palaces present her with wonder.

Let us treasure our choice to be leaders.  Let us encounter one another to make our journeys possible.  Together we may not know truth, but we can be certain that our Truth is not loneliness.  Let us work hand in hand to mortar the bricks of time and space, to rejoice in creation and laugh at its uncertainty.  May we always be Living Man, who trembles in the face of existence but affirms it in all of its mystery.  Then and only then will our journey be of value, not because it had to be so, but because we willed meaning into a fog of despair.

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Yoni A. Dahlen is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. He attended Brandeis University where he received a Masters of Arts in Jewish Philosophy. Pursuing a career in academia, his topics of interest include Jewish mysticism, political theology, and the religiosity of Labor Zionism. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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