Monday, September 19, 2016

What makes Uman special?

This guy I know is bright. If a test showed he was smarter than me I'd believe it. No problem. He's also rich and mostly self-made (Let's ignore the childhood privilege, the advantages his parents bought him, and the lucky breaks) which gives him a bit of the wrong kind of confidence to go with his brains.

Anyway, he's convinced that there is something magical in the air in places like Sefad and Uman that cause him to feel a certain way (he calls this holiness.) When I suggest that he feels the way that he feels in Uman due to his upbringing and education he counters that there is no rational reason for him to enjoy being in a smelly stink hole like Uman. Therefore the cause must be the invisible magic things in the air that he is perceiving through an invisible antenna.

Naturally, I found this absurd until it occurred to me that I might be making the same mistake the rich guy is making. See, I like going to Uman or the graves of tzadikim for the exact same reason I like to go to museums or football games, ie something about how I'm wired makes the experience pleasurable. So I assumed that it's the same for everyone. But how do I know that? Perhaps he's experiencing something radically and quantifiable different in Uman? Perhaps if I had that same experience I would agree that it couldn't possibly be the product of outlook and education!

Here is what I would like to subject to a test...

a) I experience Safed and Uman the same way I experience museums and football games; I and I beliece that is due to the forces that have shaped my personality, including education and upbringing, I find the experience pleasurable.

b) My friends and and others like him discount this and say that the experiences are not identical. As a result, they hypothesize magic. We can't test for magic; however...

C) My hypothesis is that people like them experience Uman and Safed in a way that is radically and quantifiably different from the way that I experience it. 

This is what I would like to test. How to do it?

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