I rarely send along outrageous items I find on the Internet; most of them turn out to be bogus, which only makes the sender look foolish. This Laurel and Yanni phenomenon, however (youtu.be/iknPlo2eMVw), is truly intriguing.
The speaker says a word, and asks you what you hear.
Amazingly, half the listeners say they clearly hear the word “Yanni,” while the other half swears they hear “Laurel.” Because the two words are not similar at all, the effect is mind-blowing. When I tried this 10 times with one of my close friends, who heard a different word than me each and every time, I was ready to give him a lie-detector test.
It seems, say the scientists and linguists who have studied the phenomenon, human beings actually hear at different frequencies, and so some words are processed and perceived in radically different forms.
Now, why am I sharing this little tidbit with you? Because it seems to me that the Yanni-Laurel syndrome is exactly what is plaguing the world today, particularly regarding the events surrounding Israel. Not a day goes by when someone does not write or call me, asking variations of the same question: “Don’t people out there get it?!”
As of this writing, various self-righteous actors on the world stage are once again frothing at the mouth with anti-Israel (read: antisemitic) venom. The United Nations and its resident Israel-basher, the Human Rights Commission, are demanding an “urgent” inquiry into the events on the Gaza border. Turkey, that perpetrator of the World War I Armenian genocide that inspired Hitler, led by a Kurd-killing madman who is trying to return his country to the 17th century, calls upon all nations to break relations with Israel, insanely declaring that we are “the new Nazis.”
The EU, as always, wrings its collective hands with “anxiety and anguish” for the victims – but only on one side of the fence. And, perhaps most shockingly, a group of pathetic, self-hating Jews gather in London to say kaddish (!) for the terrorists who pushed their own women and children into the line of fire.
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We who are semi-intelligent beings look at this insanity and wonder just how stupid and gullible people can actually be. Don’t they understand that the terrorists of Gaza have sworn eternal war against every citizen of Israel, if not against all Jews? That they could have had open borders, a thriving economy, a good life for their people if only they decided to live in peace rather than dedicate their lives to violence and destruction?
Doesn’t the world acknowledge the reality that the Palestinians have rejected offer after offer to settle our differences amicably, including proposals by former prime ministers Olmert and Barak to meet more than 95% of their demands? And don’t the Palestinians realize that they are rapidly self-destructing – literally! – even as Israel prospers and continually improves its standing in the Middle East and the world?
There is none so blind as he who will not see – nor he who hears and interprets reality according to his own perverse, corrupted mind-set.
We have just concluded the holiday of Shavuot. Two of its primary heroes – Ruth and Jethro, the quintessential converts in Jewish history – offer stunning examples of dissonance and decision-making.
“And Jethro heard,” begins the portion that introduces the Ten Commandments. What, exactly, did Jethro hear? The commentators answer that Jethro, while living in Midian, heard about the great miracles of the Exodus, including the splitting of the sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. So impressed was Jethro by this that he rushed to join his illustrious son-in-law Moses, convinced that God was prepared to intervene in history to assist the Jewish nation. At the same time, Amalek, our arch-enemy, saw the very same events but concluded that our victory was a fluke, an anomaly. They would attack us, suffer a stinging defeat, yet stubbornly cling to their skewed slant on the universe.
Ruth and her sister-in-law Orpah, for their part, listened to their mother-in-law’s impassioned plea to return to their own families, while she, Naomi, returned to Israel. Orpah detected the hardship and great challenge that would surely be her lot if she came to Israel, so she bade them farewell. Ruth heard the same exact words, yet she perceived something far different: the opportunity to become a full partner in the Jewish bond with God, and the glory that would surely come to her someday as part of the chosen people. So she clung to Naomi, made the arduous journey at her side, eventually to become the ancestress of the messiah.
From the days of Abraham Ha-Ivri (he who dwells on the other side), we have often heard a distinctly different voice from the one the rest of the world hears. Whether it was the radical call to believe in One God, or the revolutionary tenets of justice and morality embodied in the Ten Commandments, or the passionate exhortation to come home after 2,000 years of wandering, we have sung a different tune and danced to a different drummer.
Even as we battle against the lunacy of a world gone topsy-turvy, we must strengthen ourselves to continue hearing the pure sounds of sechel (sense), secure in our cause and in our conduct. We must tune out the voices of hate and hypocrisy that come at us from every direction and stay the course we are on, for we know in our souls that it is the right path. God and history are calling, and we hear them both loud and clear.The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana; firstname.lastname@example.org
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