Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thought Tools #45 - Are You Really With Me?

Thought Tools 45
Are You Really With Me?
November 6th, 2008 8th day of Cheshvan, 5769 Issue # 45

Catching sight of a large family reunion, an outsider might see no connecting link other than matching T shirts. Similarly, a company picnic might feature a crowd that looks like many disconnected individuals. A nation too, can seem to be composed of millions of separate units. After all, each of these groups often includes people of different genders, races, ages and economic levels.

The truth is that no matter the differences among great-aunts, parents, toddlers and teenagers, they meld together as family members. In a thriving company, people with widely variant lives cooperate in great commercial enterprise.

In any successful country, the same principle applies. For all our individual diversity, we are unified in the giant cooperative enterprise of maintaining a culture in which we can all live, flourish, and prosper peacefully.

What is the difference between a unified family and many people sharing an ancestor? Or between many people working under one roof and a successful corporation? Or between lots of individuals occupying the same slice of real estate and a real nation?

Let’s look to God’s language, Hebrew, for a clue. In English, it’s a waste of time to ponder why a steer is both a type of cattle and also the verb describing what we do to the steering wheel of a car. However, whenever the Bible uses one word for two ideas, you can be sure those two ideas are closely linked. You can explore this concept further in Buried Treasure: Secrets from the Lord’s Language.

So, when we look at the word for nation in Hebrew, AM, we have to pay attention that the identical word with a slightly different pronunciation means “with”.
?? ??
With Nation
עם עם
With Nation
God didn’t run out of combinations of letters; there is a reason these two words look exactly alike.

In addition, Biblical Hebrew doesn’t use synonyms to spice up the writing. No, their purpose is to convey real differences in meaning. This is important when we realize that there is another Hebrew word that is also translated as “with” - the word “ET.”

The difference between the two Hebrew words for “with” becomes clear in the book of Numbers. God tells the prophet Bilaam to go with the men, but when Bilaam does exactly that, astonishingly God becomes angry at him.

That night God came to Bilaam and said,
"Since these men have come to summon you, go with them,.."
(Numbers 22:20)
"Bilaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God was very angry"
(Numbers 22:21)

Please don’t make the mistake of assuming God just couldn’t make up His mind. In the original Hebrew it all makes perfect sense.

The Hebrew word for with in the first sentence is “ET” while the Hebrew word used for with in the second sentence is “IM”. When a happily married couple takes a stroll, they walk with, IM, each other, their hearts as linked as their hands.

When two strangers happen to stride alongside one another down the crowded sidewalk of a city block, they are walking with or “ET” each other. From an upstairs window, they may appear to be friends walking together, but the togetherness is an illusion.

God tells Bilaam to walk with “ET” the men, meaning alongside them but without sharing their mission. However, Bilaam walks “IM”, with, them. He becomes one with them, sharing their goals and values. Of course God is angry with him.

Related individuals don’t automatically create a unified family. Alienated workers at the same enterprise don’t make a successful company. All these groups stand a better chance of unity, fulfillment and success if they recognize the difference between ET and IM and the need to convert the former into the latter by embracing shared ideas, goals and values.

And sharing the same real estate does not form a nation. When social scientists, politicians and pollsters slice and dice a country, they are making a mistake. By labeling us as males and females, white and blue collar workers, soccer moms and hockey moms, Hispanics and Asians, rich and poor, they diminish us. What truly matters is a shared vision of all men being created equal, of a land of opportunity where everyone has the freedom to fly or fail, and of being “one nation under God.”
Surely, it is worth the effort to build real families, real companies, and a real nation.
Edited by Susan Lapin

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  • Roran aka Big Girl - 18 year old BOB daughter - recently booted from the nest
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  • Radical - 9 year old BOB son who fyi is not RAD
  • Felpsy aka lil middle - 4 year old BOTH boy who is RAD and is the cumin in our soup
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