Monday, February 19, 2007

Starting Afresh

Israel’s Police Commissioner just resigned and a new one has already been appointed...
The new IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, has just begun his termof office...
And Jacky Matza, Director of Israel’s Tax Authority, also resigned yesterday.

As I walked up the steps to my house,I stopped to admire the fresh pink blossom on the neighbor’s peach tree.
I walked a few more steps into my garden to observe the buds beginning to grow on our magnificent fig tree.

Spring is in the air in Israel.
It’s time for renewal.
Because that’s how the Universe works.
It’s embedded in Nature.

And it’s part of us too.

Today is the first of the Hebrew month of Adar, and the Jewish calendar and liturgy make special provisions for every new month. It reminds us that we can always renew ourselves. Every month. Every day if necessary.
We can decide to resign our old selves, our old habits or those annoying character traits...
We can decide to resign our jobs and follow that dream we’ve always wanted...
We can decide to fire our fears and take control of our lives...

And that’s wonderful!
If we realize that change and renewal is the way the world is supposed to work...
If we realize that changes in Governments and public positions are perfectly natural...
And we realize that we too can renew ourselves at any given moment...

We need never be depressed!

There’s always hope! There’s always a way out. After every resignation comes a new appointment, a new opportunity.
And the Jewish people know that better than most. It’s what’s kept us going for so long!
So whether it’s the Police, the IDF, the Tax Authority or ourselves, let us hope that all renewal is as sure and delicious as my peaches and figs!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Solution to Evil

I was in England a couple of weeks ago.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was being questioned for his possible involvement in an honors scandal.
And nine Muslims were arrested in Birmingham for allegedly planning to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier in the British army.
In Israel, the Prime Minister/President is always under police scrutiny.
And the IDF are arresting Hamas, Jihad and Fatah activists every day.

Would it be too simplistic to suggest that
a. Power corrupts
b. Fundamental Islam is a real threat to the civilized world?

Would it be even more simplistic to suggest the solution to these two problems is in our hands?
1. We should not actively be looking to attain positions of power.
If we are worthy in our deeds and actions we will have power bestowed upon us.
Take the example of Moses at the burning bush. He argued with God for a week,
claiming his unsuitability to be a leader.
(And if Bush had also taken Moses’ lead, maybe there would be a lot less burning in Iraq.)
Moses was such a good leader precisely because he didn’t want to be one.

2. The answer to evil is good.
No-one has ever solved the problem of irrational, insane, inhuman terror.
No threat, no punishment, no army and no government.
Just like in the movies, it’s good versus evil, cops versus robbers.
The world is finely balanced. It could go either way.
But the more good each of us does will counteract the evil they do.
They think they know what’s right.
We know what’s right (otherwise why make a fuss of Blair, Olmert, Katsav, John McCain or anybody else?)

So let’s just do the right thing. For the world’s sake.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Only Comfort

I’ve just returned from a condolence
visit to England.

My grandparents – 96 and 94 – lost their eldest daughter in Israel after a long and gritty struggle against cancer.

There are no words. No comfort.

The Jewish custom allows friends and acquaintances to visit the bereaved for seven days after the funeral. So at least my grandparents were overwhelmed with warm and caring visitors from morning to night.

But there are no words. No comfort.

My grandfather was the British Army chaplain at the time the Allies liberated Bergen-Belsen in 1945. He’s seen his fair share of suffering.

And he said his own personal grief pales in the shadow of the suffering of the Jewish people.
But still... a child is a child.

And there are no words. No comfort.

We can never know why there’s suffering... Or why the Jewish people have had such a generous supply of it...

But now we have a Jewish State and a Jewish army. And we have a faith that has lasted since the first Jew in the world was asked to sacrifice his own son...

And that’s a comfort.

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