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Entries in Jonah (1)

Thursday
Dec122013

The Jonah Epiphany

While doing a Bibliodrama recently on the book of Jonah, I came to a tremendously important realisation that helped me in my attitudes towards myself, and can also help us have compassion on others:

G-d came to Jonah and said, "Go to Nineveh and tell them to repent." Had Jonah been a good little prophet, he would have said "Ok", gone to Nineveh, said "Repent...", they would have repented - and that would have been the end of the story. Very boring story, and no book of Jonah. It was only because he was a bad prophet, running away from his mission, going down...then down... then down some more... that we even have the marvelous story of Chapter 1  of Jonah, with the amazing sailors and the process that Jonah himself goes through, continuing in Chapter 2.

Those sailors came to know G-d because of Jonah. It is only due to Jonah's "malfunctioning" that they all experienced the crisis of the weird storm and rose to its existential challenge. Jonah himself gets to, in the eye of the storm, stand up and declare "I am a Hebrew", which may represent a very important moment in his life - a moment he would not have had, had he been a good boy.

The lesson is that even when we seem to ourselves to be dysfunctional, to be running away, we are still on a meaningful journey and still impacting the people around us, possibly even in a tremendous way, as Jonah did for those sailors, and as the book of Jonah does for us. We are writing chapters of the book of our life, even if we ourselves do not notice any plot and character development in particular.

G-d will send us opportunities from within that escaping place, to be and to do, and we get to choose there too, just as we always get to choose.

For me, quite frequently feeling like I am running away from who I am "meant" to be, this really helps. Perhaps there are some other people out there who feel similarly.

P.s. Jonah (in Hebrew "Yonah") means dove, and my friend Chaviva Speter also notes similar lessons we can learn from the dove in the flood. The first time that Noah sends the dove, it fails to land. The second time, it does not fly far, returning with an olive branch. Only the third time does it fly free and not return. Just as Jonah failed initially in his mission, so did the dove, and so do we. It's part of life and we must keep trying.