Friday, October 22, 2010


8 Heshvan, 5771

Jerry Springer's career just won't die, destroying the possibility of rational thought in the universe. He has a new dating show called, "Baggage," whose hook is that people choose partners not by what's most attractive, but by the baggage and hang-ups that they bring into the relationship. 

 This show is evilly brilliant, and not only because it expands the frontier of how gleefully people will humiliate themselves in front of a camera. It also exposes a truth of life: that baggage is really important. Much of loving another person means accepting their baggage. Indeed, it reveals just how much our own issues and trauma set the course of our lives.

The Rambam teaches in the Eight Chapters that all human beings are free, that none are born either good or evil but have the obligation to direct themselves; but how can we be free knowing that what is imposed upon us from the outside, especially when we're young, has so much to say about how we live our lives? Especially when those impositions are negative and hurtful, they leave an imprint upon us forever.
Freedom lies in how every person responds to his or her own trauma. What hurts us demands a response, but it does not dictate what that response will be. What is put upon us is not in our hands, but our response to our baggage is. Our baggage is what we make of it.

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