I always try to dance around anything remotely political on this page. The idea was to focus on the spiritual journey towards Judaism. But at times the two crash into each other and make them almost impossible to ignore. As I wrote in a previous post, the most important thing for all of us is our personal relationship with G-d and recognizing that He truly runs the world. This is the one thing that needs to remain constant and strong, even in the face of great challenges. Knowing G-d loves us is essential.
As I have also written before, prayer can be a battle. We have constant distractions and, at least for me, when things are strained and not going well, it is hard to see a blessing in that. Even though I am reminded of the fact that we do not often see the lessons while we are in the midst of a test, and only after the fact, I still struggle. I take comfort in knowing that Moses was only able to see Hashem AFTER he passed. This is the perfect metaphor for the idea that we will learn the lessons AFTER we have made it through them.
I also take comfort in my friend Shlomo’s lesson that there are three answers to a prayer:
I have something better in mind.
And yet… given all this… my head is still spinning at times. There is a lot of noise in the world. It is dizzying. And there are a lot of things seemingly dividing the Jewish community. The first is Israel itself, and while most of us understand the dire importance of the state of Israel, many people, Jews included, want to distance themselves from her. I have heard people say Israel is too much trouble. Regardless of how you feel about every policy, and as Jews we all know the importance of a good and HEALTHY debate… we MUST love Israel. This has to be the base from which we start. Only then can we have a true and meaningful debate on this and that. The history, the connection, the spiritual meaning of the Temple and Jerusalem cannot be ignored.
The second is the government and where we fall politically. I move within different circles, from the Orthodox at AISH and Chabad, to the liberal. I hear both sides of things, and am firmly ensconced in the middle. I am a strong supporter of Israel and believe her safety and security is of extreme importance. While we can also debate recent moves and proclamations, standing by Israel is essential. This does not mean we do so blindly and without question… which brings me to my next point… the MEANS MATTER.
From my POV and I say this as delicately as possible, we seem to find ourselves in a position of seeing the right things being done, but by people who are not so… well… “Jewish.” The rock and hard place I find myself between is right here. We should not have to choose between Israel and Judaism. What I mean by that is this… As Jews we are taught to behave in a certain way… We tell the truth, we respect others, we always try to do the right thing, etc. This is the CORE of who we are. It is essential to our Judaism. In fact, if I had to reduce Judaism to a few basic notions, it would be to love G-d, love yourself and love the stranger. Behave towards others as you want them to behave towards you… and ALWAYS do the right thing… and ALWAYS seek the TRUTH. So what happens when we see people doing the very opposite of this BUT doing the seemingly right things for Israel?
And this is the great divide… What I see as destroying us from within. I see and hear horrible things being said from the extreme right AND the extreme left… the bandying about of the word Nazi to describe individuals. Facts being glossed over by rhetoric and heated (and often misguided) passion/anger. It must stop. We need to try to find some common ground and treat our fellow Jews with respect. We need to walk away from those who refuse to respect us or our opinions and act horribly, and focus instead on ourselves, our friends and loved ones, and those who we can talk to honestly and rationally. Watching Jews tear each other apart is heartbreaking… but I think the answer is clear… remember what Judaism and the Torah and the Great Sages teach us… remember the importance of Israel… Remember lovingkindness and the truth… Remember to ALWAYS do the right thing… to study and learn and respect each other… and remember that divided we fall.
“most of us understand the dire importance of the state of Israel”
It saddens me to say it, but most Jews I know, both American and Israeli, do not understand the importance of a Jewish homeland. I certainly do not see Israel as a theocracy. Having been born in Tel-Aviv, I know most Israelis never set foot in a synagogue. Most eat traif, and most don’t observe Shabbat. But those that were close to Holocaust survivors, and they are a shrinking minority, do understand the need for a Jewish sanctuary state, where Jews can always seek refuge. The memory of the Holocaust has all but faded. Even many “Holocaust Museums” have changed their names and generalized their message. If this trend continues, Israel will likewise become a generic homeland for all oppressed people. Jews will eventually become a minority within their own country. The BDS movement will no longer be necessary.