By Jaron Zanerhaft
Since the dawn of time, our ancestors believed in powers beyond the limits of our senses. When Prehistoric Man found himself on the brink of self-awareness, he forged within the fires of his very soul a single gesture that contained the power to unite all people and maintain peace in the world. And when the gesture was complete, Man named it… Chai Five! It was a blessing of unfathomable strength, a potent force of untold skill. However, the power of Chai Five! proved too strong for early Man to wield, and the gesture was lost for many ages. Throughout time, Chai Five! has appeared briefly, testing our species to see if we were ready for its mighty and awesome gift.
The first known Chai Five! to go wrong
In Biblical Egypt, Moses invoked Chai Five! on his 9th try to free the Hebrew slaves. Unfortunately it backfired and a plague of darkness ensued. Chai Five! next surfaced in Ancient Rome circa 435 A.D. when Emperor Valentinian III attempted to congratulate one of his Gladiators with a gesture greater than “thumbs up.” But Mankind was still not ready, and Chai Five! collapsed much of the Coliseum into rubble. Most recently, the Chai Five! was called upon by a young John Lennon who, in 1960, heeded the world’s outcry for a band to champion in an era of love. Though initially successful, Chai Five! broke in 1969, leaving in its wake more crappy cover bands than the world had ever known.
Ancient Rome circa 435 A.D.
But now the time has come for Chai Five! to clap again! At long last, we have reached the apex of anticipation. The air has never been more ripe, the universe never more fertile for a new age. Chai Five! has completed its incubation so that it may bequeath its jubilance upon us. And of all the worthy hands by which to gesticulate Chai Five! into being, it has chosen two— yours and ours. Yes, we cannot Chai Five! alone, so, believing that the time of Chai Five! is here, we have exposed our open palm to you. You have but only to slap it with yours to bring into being paradise beyond the farthest borders of imagination. The choice is yours— Will you Chai Five!?
John Lennon's almost successful Chai Five! attempt--unfortunately, the world was not yet ready
* No actual Chai Five!s were documented to have influenced the historical events contained within this blog. It is purely the speculation and
opinion of the author that these occurrences are too radically similar to not have shared in common Chai Five!.
- Project Chai Five (beittshuvah.wordpress.com)
By Jaron Zanerhaft
Throughout my first Shabbos services at Beit T’Shuvah, a single quote wriggled around inside my head like an insipid pop lyric:
“Gratitude is the disease of dogs.”
I was resigned to contempt, bitter without cause, and suspicious of anyone who told me that I couldn’t figure something out myself. The decency and efforts of those around me at Beit T’Shuvah, however, wore down my resistance and showed me that whether or not I choose to be grateful to them, I wouldn’t last long denying the abundance of blessings in my life.
So how do you stay grateful? Studies confirm that gratitude in its emotional form depends on three things: the value of the help to the recipient, the cost to the benefactor, and the benevolence of the intention. Basically, you are most grateful when someone does something really important for you that was tough for them, and they did it for the right reasons. Simple actions such as recognizing the use of your senses and saying “thank you” can boost awareness of cause and effect in your life.
While gratitude is an emotion of the moment, a feeling of thanks felt in a specific situation, the frequency with which one can feel gratitude points to something more continuous than fleeting grace. In many 12-step programs, participants are encouraged to shed light on their character defects— inherent traits which contributed to their downfall. Then, we cultivate strengths. When considering positive traits which could aid in the development of an upstanding character, don’t overlook the impact of gratitude. Gratitude can be a trait, a characteristic incorporable into personalities. A person of gratitude is more prone to feel grateful in any given circumstance and therefore more prone to happiness and success. Instead of being just a person who feels gratitude, you can be a person of gratitude. The results of studies focusing on long-term gratitude suggest that taking actions such as keeping a gratitude journal and praying can lead to a greater degree of achievement towards personal goals, better physical health, and a stronger feeling of connection to others.
I have certainly come a long way since Stalin’s words echoed in my head. I can now identify gratitude as an essential component of my being. Though sometimes a struggle, I find moments to be thankful. Friday nights after cleaning up from services, I hold a small group where we pass around a candle and share what we are appreciative of from the past week. In these groups I’m fond of mentioning that, when a valuable object or investment appreciates, by definition, it increases in value. So, too, as we appreciate, our lives become more valuable to ourselves. Be grateful for what you have, and turn it into more than you could have ever dreamed.
“Hi, wanna cyber? Asl? Pix send2recieve.” In the digital age of the 21st century, this dialogue is no longer uncommon. People are connecting to millions of others within milliseconds to share pictures, videos, songs, and ideas. The average Internet user has no face, no skin color, and no gender. In fact, the root of most discrimination depends on the amount of cyber experience one has—the newbies and the pros. Unfortunately, not everybody is able to hide under their protective cloak of anonymity—this was the case of Tyler Clementi, a young college student from New Jersey who committed suicide after his sexual exploits were recorded by his roommate’s webcam and then blasted on the web.
MTV recently released a new campaign called “Draw Your Line,” which is implemented to help people learn their cyber boundaries. When I first began my rehabilitation, I had the startling realization that I had barely any real life boundaries. I wasn’t sure what was socially okay to talk about and with which people, I wasn’t sure which girls to hit on, and I especially didn’t understand how to handle my own reactions. This website will help users—anonymously or otherwise—troubleshoot these problems on a situational basis. Members can post an action that they find troubling and others can comment and suggest the best course of reaction they can take. For example, in California, Anonymous just reported almost a dozen Craigslist predators.
I’m a big fan of this model of teaching. Much like the Socratic method it is very interactive, which means that the truth will always be changing depending on who is involved. It is up to the individual to figure out what is correct, but they have a whole database of solutions to choose from and an online community to ask for advice. The DARE program didn’t work very well—police officers came into elementary schools and told kids not to do drugs. In this case, instead of lecturing kids about what to do and what not to do, they are able to figure it out for themselves. The Internet is quite the anomaly. There is so much information that can be accessed at any time, but once one delves a little deeper it can be a cruel, dark place. In 2003 a man named Brandon Vedas (under the pseudonym ripper) overdosed on a webcam while communicating over Internet Relay Chat to a group of people all around the world. Maybe if some of the people in the chat room watching his webcam had access to Draw Your Line, he would still be alive right now.