Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Opposites Attract

  Gleich und Gleich Gesellt Sich Gerne


There are innumerable oxymorons in our languages.  If we followed them all we would be like a child who wants to push the perambulator while lying in it.  There are as many beliefs as there are humans. The title of this essay describes two that are contradictions.  The second, translated into English, means the same as folks of  the same or similar characteristics attract one another.  How we interpret situations depends on our point of view, our thought processes, who we are, what we have experienced and much more.

If opposites attract, why is there the law of propinquity, namely that folk who live close or near each other have the tendency to seek their partners in their neighborhood, in their vicinity?  Why do people of the same religion understand each other's customs and beliefs better than people of dissimilar religions or no religions at all?  Why do people of high class seek mates who are also of high class?  “My Fair Lady” is a musical play which illustrates the struggles that two people have in bringing a lower class person closer to fitting in with a man who speaks a socially acceptable English, while she is from a cockney jargon section of England.

In our Jewish culture, language alone does not equality or comfort make.  The person raised in a Jewish home understands its feelings, the warmth of the Chanukkah candles, the beauty of Rosch Hashonah, Schabbath, Friday night meals with the Kiddush, the chicken soup surrounded by family/loved ones, the singing of the Zemiros, and the peaceful comfort that surrounds the participants.  Pessach with its historic symbolism; the matzoh (unleavened bread) the charoseth and morror describing the mortar and the bitterness that the Jewish people lived through during the days of  a hostile king who hated and tormented them as they wandered through the desert for years, how the waters of the sea parted to let the Jewish wanderers through to escape and to drown the evil ones, are all symbolic of what was experienced during the holocaust and innumerable other  times of Bilbulim (falsehoods) created by the enemies of the Jewish people throughout history.

How can a stranger, someone not experienced in all of the abovebe on the same page as those who were surrounded by the beauty and history from birth and with their first breath with all of the history and culture described?!! 

People who have never experienced hunger or severe deprivation are unable to feel for the impoverished who go to sleep hungry and cold!    How can a rich man feel the terror of a man or woman who was incarcerated in a concentration camp, spat upon, beaten and constantly reminded of his identity in the most derogatory language?

How can a Jew celebrate Christmas in a church and pray with those with hateful feelings toward him - who contend that his unknown ancestors allegedly killed a person who lived years ago, a supposed Jew who introduced a new and different “faith”.

Unfortunately, many of our Jewish brethren have become self destructive self haters.  They ally themselves with their enemies and begin believing the falsehoods that have been directed at them throughout history.

People can live peacefully under the sun.  There is a similarity within all humans that no one can deny.  All people want to eat, to live and be safe.  Most creatures of the human race want to be successful in whatever their goals are.  Folk want to be accepted and loved, whatever that term means to them.  They want to be understood and have the freedom to express themselves!   

We can have “brotherly love” for our neighbors without becoming our neighbors!  We can be happily unique without becoming hostile or becoming clones of those with whom we share this world.  In theory, we all agree to follow the ten commandments, but nowhere is it written that we must share the identical religion. Although we may speak in a different language, we strive to also speak a universal language. Unlike the story of the Tower of Babel where confusion reigned and folk could not understand one another, the nations have adopted one language which is available to enable people to greater comprehension.  There is uniformity and there are differences.  They exist within the universe and its people.  Absolutes are difficult to find if indeed they exist at all.

As Jews, let us be proud of our faith, our history, our similarities, and our differences.  Let us retain our Jewish identity and stand up against our antagonists.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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