A Worried Editor
I started publishing this newspaper in July of 1997 and, for the first time since I began taking on this task and this privilege, I can say that I am truly worried about the future of the nation of Israel. Never before have I seen so many lost, wandering and disconnected citizens.
Perhaps the youth of Israel symbolize it the best. They have become largely uncommunicative — more so than the average and well-known teenage angst can account for. They are glued to their computers, television sets and Hollywood movies, and they live in their own world, devoid of the guidance that comes from a close connection with an older, wiser generation. They seem perpetually bored (“mesha’amem li!“), angry, lost, confused. If you ask me, the state of the youth and its connection (or lack thereof) with the rest of society is always an excellent indicator of the direction a society is taking, and an accurate barometer of its future success or failure.
But it is not only the youth. “I have stopped listening to the news,” is a common cry that I hear all the time now, and have for the past couple of years. “I don’t care about the [political] situation any more, I am just living my life from day to day,” is another one. While there are many positive elements to this, it also shows — as in the case of the youth — that the nation of Israel has hit a situation of “ye’ush“, at least with regards to the current State of Israel.
“Ye’ush” is a difficult word to translate, though the dictionary will, antiseptically, tell you that it means “giving up”. A better translation might be “the state of being resigned to one’s fate”, i.e. an attitude of “whatever will be will be, and since I can’t do much about it, I might as well just accept it.”
Of course, there is a certain freedom and power that comes with being in such a state of mind. When one’s back is up against the wall, and he feels he has nothing to lose because everything has already been taken away from him, then he taps into a certain lion-like fearlessness and sense of purpose that comes from somewhere deep inside his or her soul (cf. the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.) In addition, for many members of the nation of Israel there is, and will always be, a certain eternal flame of hope and faith that can never be extinguished, no matter how bad times get.
But, that being said, it does not mean that being in a state of “ye’ush” is healthy. If so many people are in such a state of mind, then something is wrong. And indeed it is. Without going into the details of what direction I think the nation of Israel should take, as opposed to the direction it has chosen to take — and believe me, I could talk your ears off about this topic — I would just like to leave you with this thought: The situation cannot, and will not, continue as it is. Something is going to break sooner or later. And when it does, there are going to be some major changes in Israel.
What will be the nature of the “break”? It all depends. It could be very mild, like the collapse of the former Soviet Union, or it could be tragic — to the point of approaching another Holocaust — involving the deaths (God forbid) of many Jews, and even nuclear weapons. All possible futures are open, and it all depends on what we as a nation warrant for ourselves based on our own actions and choices.
But something is going to break, sooner or later. We all feel it in our bones, and we all know it is coming. When it does, it will be the merits, good deeds and acts of kindness that will serve as each individual’s best defense against whatever will happen in this crazy world. That is what I truly believe. Call it by whatever name you wish — karma, mida k’neged mida, or just plain common sense, but I believe that the universe is a place too filled with wisdom, too imbued with a self-correcting nature, too sensitive, to not recompense the thoughts and actions, both good and evil, of the people who inhabit it.
Therefore, to paraphrase the prophets of old, “be kind to the widow and the orphan, share your food with the hungry and clothe the naked, do not oppress the poor and the sojourner.” If you do this, then it will be well with you.
Melech ben Ya’aqov