I tried to outrun my enemy the other day. He had been hidden within the words of a trusted friend, ambushing me when I'd least expected it. I had no one around to advise me or to hold up my arms so that victory would be assured. What I did have though, was a lot of anger and a need to escape, so I clipped on my cross-country skis and headed to the back of our property, which is located forty miles west of Prince George, BC. It would be a difficult slog through the bush, but I knew it would be worth it if I managed to put the Jew-hatred that my friend had spouted, out of my mind.

Perhaps it would be easier to turn back As I made a trail through the deep snow, I paid little attention to landmarks, either physical or emotional, believing that it would be impossible to get lost. After a while, I paused when I came to a clearing. Standing there, I tried to figure out where I was. I knew where I had come from but was unsure where I was heading. The clouds were heavy, obscuring even the faintest hint of sun. I knew that there was an old dirt road somewhere to my left but I wasn't sure how far I had to ski in order to reach it.

Perhaps it would be easier to just turn back. But I've never taken the easy way out, often times learning my lessons the hard way, as if that were the only way. So I slogged on, my skis often breaking through the crust. I remembered my friend's words then, and realized that she wasn't the only enemy in my world.

There was another one, lurking within, threatening to wipe out my Jewish identity. He would often appear during those three o'clock mornings when sleep was elusive, his voice taunting me, reminding me of my isolation from community as well as a waning enthusiasm for my religion. Not that I loved Judaism and her rituals any less. It was just that I was tired and my prayers and rituals had become rote.

But that wasn't all. I not only feared the loss of my identity but I feared the swelling tide of Jew-hatred throughout the world as well as the very real threats to the state of Israel herself. I was stuck in these fears and had little hope of escape. How had it come to this? How had my enemy succeeded in making such inroads into my faith and filling me with doubts?

I stopped my reverie for a moment, concentrating on the ski that had become snared by a branch from a fallen tree. Sliding my foot backwards, I attempted to free myself but lost my balance and fell into the snow. "I'm too old for this," I thought. I should be home, sitting beside the fire with some light weight novel or more importantly, booting up the computer and logging onto the news.

I wrote incredible responses within my mind, countering every lie with truth After pulling myself to a standing position and brushing the snow from my jeans, I realized that the news was the last thing that I needed. It had become yet another enemy that was pulling me down, the written words circulating through my mind in the early mornings, throughout the day and into the night. Oh, the time that I spent rebutting the words that blamed Israel for all the problems in the world. I wrote incredible responses within my mind, countering every lie with truth. Yes sir, the pundits were no match for my brilliant intellect - within my imagination, that is.

My head had become a repository for sound-bites, ill conceived editorials, biased news stories and my angry response to each one. In short, I had become obsessed with the news, an obsession that had stolen a great deal of time from my Torah study, and had stolen my attention while I prayed. I had simply lost all balance in my life. And it was this loss of balance that had sent me into a tailspin, making me ripe for attacks from the enemies of my world. It was this lack of balance that had zapped my energy and had also threatened my Jewish identity.

The Talmud says that "Life is a choice of two paths, fire and ice. If one chooses either, he will be harmed. So what does a Jew do? He walks down the middle." (Jerusalem Talmud, Hagigah 2:1) He finds balance. Yes, keeping informed of events in Israel as well as the Diaspora is extremely important to me and will always be. After all, the land and the people are all a part of my DNA. No separation, really. However, obsessing on the news and doing it at the expense of religious study is detrimental to my spiritual well-being. When that's out of whack then life becomes difficult and even hopeless.

"Life is a choice of two paths..." I shook myself then, and looked behind at my tracks that snaked through the trees. Once more I contemplated following them back to my home but decided against it. I had no desire to return by the same route. I needed a change. So I moved on, skiing for another ten minutes or so. It was then that I saw what looked like a narrow clearing that ran parallel to the tree line. It was the road that I had been searching for, I realized. I smiled and continued, delighted when I finally reached it. Once more, another smile as I recognized familiar landmarks. I heaved a sigh of relief.

The road angled east and had been packed down by a snowmobile. I knew that the machine had probably rendered the trail uneven or even icy. But that was okay. I needed to head home just as I needed to regain my equilibrium. And I could only do this by following the one true path that I knew, Judaism and her Torah, the only path that offers true peace.