There's no place like home... Part I
Memorial Hall in Sanders Theater at Harvard University started to fill up half an hour before Tal Ben-Shahar's lecture was due to begin... When Ben-Shahar, 35, who is bespectacled, lean and inclined to smile, enters, he does not look like a guru who attracts hundreds of students... It's a pleasure to listen to him. He is intelligent and funny and his remarks are rich with a profusion of details. The students are plainly riveted. When the class ends, they applaud. Afterward, a long line of students forms to exchange a few words with him. He sits at the front of the stage and speaks patiently with everyone...
Ben-Shahar is a genuine star on the Harvard campus... Indeed, the demand by 850 students to take the course ("Positive Psychology") compelled the university to allocate this hall, the largest on campus. The demand outside the university, which is equally intense, is met by a television crew that films Ben-Shahar's lectures for broadcast on the Internet...
(To view Tal Ben-Shahar's lectures, go to http://my.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?course=fas-psy1504 and click on "Lecture Videos.")
And yet, despite all of the above, he is preparing to walk away from Harvard University at the end of the year.
What could possibly compel Tal Ben-Shahar to walk away from a situation where he seems to be set for life?
I couldn't have said it better myself.
"We are coming back to Israel in July. I am obligated to give one more semester-long course at Harvard in two years, and that is all. After so many years away, I want to return home. I want to be with my family and friends. I just miss it. I have a boy of 22 months, Davidi, who wants to be with the family in Israel.
Despite all the problems, we have a wonderful country. Israel is my home and I love the country. When I ask myself what will bring me personal happiness, happiness for my family, the answer is to live in Israel. The Israelis are very authentic. In no other place have I experienced the bond I have with the state and with the people who live in it - and I am not the first Israeli to say this."