We Are Our Own Worst Enemy...

I was torn whether or not to write this post. It is upsetting me, and I'm afraid it will upset others who don't want to hear anything negative about the State of Israel. However, I feel this great need to express what I experienced, to expose to others some facts of life in Israel, and flaws in our collective character, as Jews. Maybe, just maybe, if we all do our small part, and live according to the Torah (*see below), it will trigger change for the better...

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?


Wow lots going on. Must be a hard transition. I totally understand the need for stability who doesn't like to be stable. Of course you love Israel it does not undermine that.
you know one of the main reasons I left israel..was I couldnt stomach all the above mentioned things...the bickering...nastiness etc...
I'm perfectly content with waiting for Moshiach to come...and creating my own little gan eden in my own home..
Anonymous said…
Dear Lady Light,
There is a gemarah that says that there are three things that will come with hardships, Torah, Eretz Yisrael, and Olam Habah. What you went through are part of the hardship of living here. For every story of people being jerky, I can give you three more of how they are amazing. Like, the way the young people are protecting the land and even more the people. Like during the Lebanon war how THOUSANDS of Israelis opened their homes to strangers. You got a taste of that. Like when young people who are away from their families they are welcomed in for Shabbat meals. (I've hosted many, many... many... and continue to, B"H) Like when, as a new immigrant I can't read and understand the sign at the store, people around me--anyone I ask for help--explain things with a smile. And I've been asked by little old ladies or ethiopians who can't read at all for help understanding and I've been able to help with them too.

Of all people, you know about the Sabra fruit, prickly on the outside but sweet and juicy on the inside.

Here's another thing I've learned since I've been here. When someone doesn't act in a nice way, that person is in some kind of pain and what they really need is a blessing. And when you bless people, even when they don't know you've blessed them, everyone changes. Especially the one who does the blessing.

We really need to stand together right now and that also means looking for the good in each other, not the flaws. Because we all have flaws and we all have good.

Move here. Bring your good driving manners and we'll change this place one breath at a time. Just as it will change us in ways that we couldn't fathom.

Lots of love and blessings to you and your beautiful family.

one of your northern friends :-)
Elie said…
Welcome back to the US and welcome back to blogging.

You make very valid points about difficulties of life in Israel. I don't think anyone should approach aliyh with closed eyes, expecting everything to be idyllic. Like any other major life change it will require hard work and perseverence.

As for the rudeness and brashness, that would bother me a lot as well. But it bothers me here in the US as well! As I wrote on my own blog a while back, we Jews have (as a whole, with of course many individual exceptions) seem to have completely lost the quality of "bayshanus" [bashfulness] that was once one our our key defining characteristics.
Lady-Light said…
SWFM: Yes, I still love Israel. But you have a point there: when there is less unity, there is more instability . I think that we need to bring the stability, rationality and efficiency we have from living in a place where we don't have to worry constantly about basic survival (which the State of Israel has had to do since its inception)along with us when we go to live in Israel. And little by little, we will help effect change...
David: I am so torn; I sometimes don't know if we should just wait for Moshiach, or help effect his coming...but we waited and waited for thousands of years; and it took the secular Jews to take action and settle the land again, to create Medinat Yisrael. There was definitely Yad Hashem in that. So who are we to just sit and wait? Maybe we need to jump into the fray, and help effect change. And learn from our brave brethren (we are all Am Yisrael.)
Anon.: Well said, and very moving...remember, I wrote this after pent-up frustration at our situation, and my son's serious financial loss, due to others' lawlessness and incompetence. I did say that there was good in individuals--many, many of them. The country as a whole, has serious problems with its government and institutions. Basically, what we do when we make aliyah is move there despite that. I loved what you said about nasty people being in pain, and needing a blessing, and by blessing them, the blesser is changed as well. You are on a much higher spiritual level than I, but I will try to incorporate that into my hashkafah. As for moving there, there has been a change in our status, and that might be a distinct possibility in the not-so-distant future; can't elaborate now...
I agree: we can stand together, bring our 'good [anything]manners' with us, and change the country "one breath at a time."
Elie: I second that--make aliyah knowing what to expect, and prepare to work hard and persevere. You noticed, I see, that Jews have lost a quality: you call it 'bashfulness.' I call it respect & consideration of the other guy, in a word: humility. Please see my comment on your blog-and thank you again for re-visiting mine (I was gone a long time!)
kasamba said…
You are so right!
we really need to work on how we relate to the world around us!
Anonymous said…
I guess you had a bad experience after an other here. I had one quite unsatisfactory experience too when I wanted to take a bus from Bnei Brak back to where I live in Rechasim (a nice religious village). I was not allowed entrance to the Egged (public) bus at 10 o'clock at night on a cold night, because I did not where a skirt, but was fully covered, because it was so cold, and by the way, I am a frum person anyways? Yes, there are a lot of problems in Israel. And more of them in Tel Aviv and Yerushalaim. But up north I feel it is very very different. More relaxed, happier people. Even just after the war they experienced. They helped me sooo much. They cared about me, finding me a place to live, a job, and just smile, and wish me good luck in this beautiful country of ours. All this from people I just met. Yes, I do miss my car. But I am 'HOME'! I feel that my neighbors care about me. They have a nice word to say when I see them. I did not see too much of that in the states. It was the fake "How are you", and if I said "not to good", I would get the typical reply "oh, that's good", whitout even realising that I said that I am not good today. It felt fake, superficial, temporary. Here, I feel like I among amongst my family. A sense of Godly presence constantly. So Israel is our country and we should try to make it our happy place to live.
Lady-Light said…
Anon: Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. We should try to change the 'bad' and reinforce the 'good', in short: Tikkun Olam!
Anonymous said…
Dear Lady Light, here's another little tid bit, it's a bit of Torah I heard before I made aliyah. (very bried nut shell) During the time of the Meraglim (spies) it was basically people saying, "we like Torah but we don't want the hardship of the land" After all, they had it good in the desert with G-d taking care of everything from food to clothes. In Israel it would be much more work. The Chalutzim (pioneers) were a gilgul/reincarnation of the Meraglim/spies so they could do a tikkun and take the land without Torah.

Now we've come full circle, we can strive for the Land WITH Torah.

It may be that the ONLY task we need to perfect, or at least strive for is "v'ahavta l'recha c'mocha" "Love your fellow like yourself". We'll never be the scholars or as righteous as previous generations, but we may be able to rise higher in the way we can love each other.

May we each find the blessing of finding what's lovable in each other, or even, harder still, love even those who are not behaving so loveably. (Like we sometimes need to muster when our kids are, say, hormonal!)

smiles and blessings!
Anonymous said…
I meant to type "very brief--in a nutshell"... :-)
Lady-Light said…
anonymous: that's what I said, in slightly different words: "ve-ahavta le-rayacha kamocha' is part of "mitzvot ben adam le-chavero". And what you are saying, is what the other anonymous said (-you the same person?), that we should give the not-so-nice-people a blessing because they are in pain. I agree with that. It's implementing it that I find hard.That is my test...
Anonymous said…
Here are my two cents, months later:
The real question here is what are your expectations?
I liken Israelis to a battered woman. Besides the pain, that also comes with a a lot of emotional problems. In short - we are a very sick people, a lot worse than most, having suffered and been humiliated for so long, it's become a way of life.
Things like this don't turn around so fast - we are only in the beginning of the process which started with the secular Zionists.
For instance the lawlessness is a legacy of the thousands of years in which the law, and the government was our enemy.That won't disappear so fast.
There are so many problems and so many wounds to heal!If you have ever tried to heal any of your own psychological wounds or even to just change a little, go on a diet or exercise you will realize how difficult it is to change a whole people.
That said - I find that the majority of people are great, and even the nasty ones speak hebrew and they too are part of my family - where else can I live and say that?
Only in Israel.

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