We Are Our Own Worst Enemy...
I am back 'home' with mixed feelings. I miss being in Israel, but I am happy to be home --one of the big problems in Israel was that I didn't have a 'home', rather I kept moving from place to place and living out of suitcases. Everywhere I went, especially when I stayed somewhere overnight, I carried a loaded backpack on my back and usually an extra huge shopping bag filled with clothes or personal items. I felt like the original bag lady! When I was in my sons' apt., I felt as if I was putting them out, with my luggage all over their tiny apt., and putting my younger son out of his room--the 'miklat'--(he either slept on the living room couch when I was there or on the floor in a sleeping bag, and once just on some pads & blankets. It must have been awful for him). When I stayed in Nachlaot with people I met on the internet, --tzaddikim, to open their home to me sight unseen-- I had a whole floor to myself -- but I felt as if I was a stranger intruding on their family (even though I probably wasn't). Part of it was not having a car (!), I am so accustomed to going where I want when I want, without shlepping stuff. Instead, I found myself, a 60 year old woman (YIKES!!! WHEN THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN???) shlepping, shlepping, shlepping! I'm too old for this...(...but one good thing: I am now a 'vatika ' and get half-price on the bus.)
But, life is so-ooooo different here in the States: easier, laid-back, less intense. And it feels a bit more secure...where I live, I don't have the enemy living right on the other side of the fence, or across the highway, as it was in my sons' yishuv.
Does that mean I want to live here, in the States? As a Jew, the answer is 'no'. I am still a 'Zionist', though not starry-eyed anymore; but I have to tell you that I saw the seamy side of Israel; the poverty of Yerushalayim, the shame of seeing garbage strewn all over the streets. I gave as much tzedakah as I could, including donating the the Kollel Chabad soup kitchen. But is the Agudat Yisrael Mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupoliansky doing anything to alleviate poverty or beautify the city? I didn't see evidence of it.
In addition, we were in a serious car accident, through no fault of my older son who was driving; as a matter of fact, his outstanding driving skills prevented the car from flipping over on kvish 1; instead we "just" were pushed sideways by this truck I don't know how many meters forward, then spun around twice across the entire highway, and crashed into the median barrier. Thanks to a miracle from G-d, while we were spinning around in rush hour traffic, for those few seconds it took there were no cars in the immediate vicinity and we were not hit. I experienced being ignored and even rebuffed by the police, who asked the Arab 12-wheeler-flatbed-truck-driver- who-decided-to-change-lanes-into-us what happened, but didn't even respond to our efforts to talk to them. The truck driver lied to the police, and said that we hit him, in our little Diahatsu Applause. Of course. The police were SO not interested in helping us, I cannot fathom why. We didn't move, just sat in the car not knowing if anyone- my son- daughter in the back seat or me, were hurt. We were waiting for Magen David Adom or some other hatzalah to come look at us and help us. At this point in time back in the States, I still don't know if the police in Israel have any information on the truck driver or the license plate number of the truck which hit us. They certainly had no information at the time in Mishteret ha-T'nuah in Yerushalayim on anything nor any knowledge of where our car was, after having been told by the police at the scene that because of the location of the accident it belonged to machoz Yerushalayim. Guess what? That was wrong, too. It really was machoz hashefelah. We found out days later the car had been towed to Holon.
In addition to the beauty of the land, I also experienced the harshness of the country, the gratuitous nastiness of some of the people, e.g., in misrad ha-pnim ; and of course, the frenetic, aggressive and lawless way people drive in Israel. Are they crazy? What's wrong with following driving rules? What is the purpose of tailgating the car in front of you when he is doing the speed limit or faster, flashing your brights at him, and cutting around him with centimeters to spare? Why do people drive BETWEEN lanes, or weave in and out of lanes??? How safe is that for the driver who tries to "drive defensively", as we learned in the States? Is it a mistake, or naive, to learn this? Or is it a better way to live??
When you think about it, it actually is against the Torah to drive like that; it is endangering people's lives!
Why is it, that when Jews are dispersed among the gentile nations, they are good, smart, talented, leaders -- they consult, advise and lead in communities, business, government--but in their own country, they are dis-unified and confused. It is almost as if a Jew among non-Jews can lead, but when Jews are among themselves, everyone is a chief and no one is an Indian!
I'm trying to find the good in the country, and it isn't in the government. It isn't the police. The good is individual people. But in Israel our people as a whole, as a unit, are our own worst enemy. They don't look out or care for the common good: it is ME, ME, ME, and 'how can I get ahead and beat out the other guy'; not a good formula for the future of a unified people; not a good formula for the Jews to be a light unto the nations.
We need to STOP, and ask ourselves in which direction we are going. Before we implode.
*At the beginning of this post, I wrote a phrase which might alienate some of you: "...and live according to the Torah..." What do I mean by that? Do I want to force all Jews to become religious?? Not at all. I believe in allowing every Jew to live his or her life in their home as they wish. If a Jew wants to be secular, so be it--I myself can be dati, and teach by example--except for one thing: whether or not one is religious, one does need to follow the so-called 'golden rule', which is actually what the Torah teaches (-and what Christians themselves believe; don't know about the Muslims though...): do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, something that non-religious Jews can do as well, and still consider themselves chiloni: just follow mitzvot bein adam le-chavero. Is that too much to ask?