Friday, May 26, 2006

What do you stand for?

Among my many Yom Yerushalayim experiences that I had yesterday, one in particular stood out, and unsurprisingly enough, it involved a conversation wtith an Israeli taxi driver.

I was in a taxi, on my way to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, and as usual, I was talking it up with the driver, in this case a 22 year old from Katamon who shares the taxi with his father, and makes considerably more money a month than I do (and yet, for some reason, still has dreams of going to America for a few years to strike it rich - if only he could get a visa).

As we entered Har Nof, he mentioned to me that driving two cars ahead of us was the car of the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Shas party's (Israel's Sephardi political party) spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who lives in Har Nof.

Ze'ev: So are you as Shasnik? (Are you affiliated with the Shas party?)

Driver: No, I'm a right winger who's against Arabs.

Ze'ev: Ok, but what are you for?

Driver: What?

Ze'ev: You said that you're a right winger who is against Arabs, but what are you for?

Driver: You mean you want to know which party I voted for in the elections?

Ze'ev: No, I just want to know what you're for.

Driver; [Hesitating] I want this country to be Israeli... er... Jewish... [voice trailing off]

At that point, the driver received a reprieve of sorts, as we pulled up to the requested address, and the conversation came to an end.

It is often much easier for a person to know what he's against, but not what he's for. This is certainly the case among many of the members of the Jewish People and State.

For instance, all too often I hear from people (and political parties) that "I am against giving away land; I am against the fence; the government is corrupt; the media is biased; the Supreme Court has an anti-Jewish (or ultra-secular) agenda...

All those things may be true, but after hearing such an individual articulate all that it is that he is "against", I am no closer to understanding exactly what it is that he is for (and in many cases, neither is the individual himself any closer).

If we, as Jews do not understand why the Jewish People should continue to exist; if we, as Jews, can't articulate why it is that a Jewish State in the Land of Israel should exist and what our right to it is; If we, as Jews, are unable to understand what it is that we believe in and why it is that we believe in it, then we are nowhere and no one at the same time, and as such, stand for absolutely nothing, regardless of how many things we might stand against.

During the 2,000 year Exile, without fail, Jewish parents passed on to their children the essence of what it meant to be a Jew - what it was that being a Jew stood for, giving the next generation of Jews the inner (if not physical) strength to stand strong against their oppressors (be they of a physcal or spiritual nature). If the Jewish People and State are to have a future, we must do the same for our children. We owe all the generations who sacrificed so much to ensure that the Jewish Perople would endure at least that much.

In truth, we owe it to ourselves and our children so much more.




5 Comments:

Wait a second... how could R' Ovadia be just 2 cars ahead?! His convoy is usually 2 in front, 2 in back! You should have been 3 cars back! ;)

By Blogger Ezzie, at Fri May 26, 07:35:00 PM GMT+3  

That's a great point.
We lost the election and the people, because there was no message, no dream, no "chazon" vision.

What happened to NU?

By Blogger muse, at Sun May 28, 06:37:00 AM GMT+3  

Ze'ev, excuse me if I am being obtuse, but I heard you say, "People should be for something." and "I am against people being only anti-something and not for anything." But I still didn't really hear what you are for. I heard you give a great explanation of why we need to pass on a positive message. I heard you talk about the Jewish people's tradition of education and passing on positive values. But I didn't hear what your message is, or what values you do want passed on. You write:
"During the 2,000 year Exile, without fail, Jewish parents passed on to their children the essence of what it meant to be a Jew - what it was that being a Jew stood for, giving the next generation of Jews the inner (if not physical) strength to stand strong against their oppressors (be they of a physcal or spiritual nature). "

And yet you don't say what the essence is?! Is it the oppression of Arabs, which Ihud Leumi seems to support? Or is it the idea that Land is more important than human life? Is this the essence of Judaism?


Or are you for Justice?(Tzedek, tsedek tirdof) Peace? (T'vakesh Shalom V'sradfehu?) Equality? (V'ahavta et re'echa?). If so, feel free to join Meretz in support of Genuine, Positive Jewish values.

http://www.myparty.org.il/

Kol Tuv,

H

By Anonymous H, at Sun May 28, 08:37:00 AM GMT+3  

h: Meretz, historically, has supported giving in to the demands of the P.A., giving "back" Jewish land that was liberated(yes...not captured, controlled, or occupied, as Y. Beilin would have it), it supports affirmitive action which leaves thousands of Jewish students behind while giving Arab youths an undeserving edge and in short it reeks of self-hatred.

Though Ze'ev wasn't clear concerning what he stands for, I'll make it clear what I stand for. I stand for a Greated Israel. Let the Arabs stay here only if they pledge alliegance. Have them jailed every time they've even suspected of cooperating with terrorists or of treason. Have Hamastan annihilated and liberate Aza, Judea and Samaria. Name streets, bridges and other places in the names of Rabbie Meir Kahane(H"YD) and Rehavaam Zeevi(H'YD) instead of traitors like Rabin and Dayan. Along with that give your children a Jewish education, giving them a taste for good literature and a vision of ahavat Yisrael.

Finally, make all Arab parties illegal.

By Blogger Greg, at Mon May 29, 01:38:00 PM GMT+3  

Well, Greg, as a member of Meretz - I really appreciated your little lesson on what we stand for. Please do carry on patronising me.

As for your comments:

Is Greated Israel like Grated Cheese? You want us to be torn apart, Shredded - different parts of the nation separate from others and antagonistic towards each other? Now I understand why you support Ihud Leumi - because you want the People to be "grated" and disconnected from each other - torn apart by your unjust policies.

As for the racist/fascist agenda you set out - I don't recognise it as in any way Jewish, which I think confirms my first point to Ze'ev.

H

By Anonymous H, at Mon Jun 12, 12:15:00 PM GMT+3  

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