A Thought Before Yom Kippur

25 Sep

First apology, I accidentally wrote in English. Sorry.

Jerusalem, a few days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day of divine judgement.
My friend is sick, hospitalized in an oncology ward here in Jerusalem, waiting to hear what treatment she will receive, how painful, long, dangerous and debilitating the road to healing will be. As she left her room for a moment yesterday, somebody stole her mobile phone. When she told me, on the new phone she was forced to get immediately in order to stay in touch with the world and in order to set up the complicated bureaucratic procedures the Israeli medical system demands, I could feel all the fuses go off in my brain and I thought to myself, maybe capital punishment isn’t such a bad idea for a person who goes into a cancer ward and steals a phone from a patient. To call that thief a swine is an insult to pigs.

Within the framework of Project 929 (reading a chapter of Bible a day keeps ignorance of the Scriptures away) I was listening to Rabbi Benny Lau’s commentary to the second chapter of the Book of Proverbs, specifically a sentence that draws from the following quote from the concluding book of the Torah.
And you shall do what is proper and good in the eyes of the Lord, in order that it may be well with you, and that you may come and possess the good land which the Lord swore to your forefathers (Deuteronomy 6:18)
Rabbi Lau talks about the difficulty of balancing proper, meaning legally just, and good in the sense of moral, two concepts that can sometimes be complimentary but sometimes contradictory to one another. The Torah, in this instance, makes us several promises. If we do what is just and what is good in the eyes of God, all will be well with us and we will inherit the Promised Land. Normally, it would be understood as “if you’re good, God will reward you by giving you the land”. However, it can be read differently. It’s the act of doing what is just and good in the eyes of the Lord itself that makes the land ours, the way it was our forefathers’. Like with a lover, we will develop a strong and healthy relationship if we treat the Promised Land right. But if we cheat, we will be rejected. And you can take that in any political direction you fancy.
In these ten days of reflection, between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, traditional Jews are conditioned to do at least a minimal amount of soul-searching. It’s a scientific fact that it’s much easier to accurately pin-point one’s fellow men’s faults than one’s own. Like every other year, I’ve done some bad stuff, such as scaring the living day-lights out of a fellow congregant by banging on his car with great force when I thought he was trying to steal my parking place. And other things I’m much too ashamed of to share with you. But the concepts of justice and goodness are not foreign to me and I hope to earn the right to stay in this country that infuriates me so much and which I love the way I can never love another country.
The now defunct Whatsapp group that was formed years ago, for parents of kids that served in the army with my son, woke up recently. Most of the other kids will soon finish their army service and to celebrate this, a few parents suggested we collect some money and help the family of one of the soldiers who is a new immigrant, a family who are having difficulties getting their lives in Israel off to a good start. Within a few days of the initial suggestion, those parents who were able to made small or large donations, compared prices, took the family for a shopping round and furnished their home with the family’s choice of new furniture.
It’s sometimes tempting to give up on human-kind. But let’s not give up hope because of the occasional a-holes we encounter. Dear God, let us be found deserving of another year and in that year, let’s model our actions on the sense of justice and goodness imagined by a group of parents who don’t know each other, but are parents of fine young men who fight for our country, parents who share a desire to inherit that which we can only have when we treat each other right.


Ett svar to “A Thought Before Yom Kippur”

  1. duritzan september 26, 2017 den 5:55 e m #

    Tack Noomi för att du sprider ljus och hopp när jag tycker att det mesta ser dystert ut. Det finns tillräckligt många goda människor för att det ska finnas hopp om en framtid även om åskmolnen tornar upp sig. Det är bara så lätt att glömma i flödet av eländesrapporter. En medmänsklighetsrapport känns väldigt skönt.


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