Friday, February 13, 1998

Out of the Closet

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron

Out of the Closet
February 13, 1998
President Ezer Weitzman opened the celebrations marking Israel's 50th birthday a few days ago. At that time the highly touted 'slogan' was released: "Together with Pride - Together with Hope". (Byachad b'ga'ava - byachad b'tikva). This slogan effectively exemplifies the Number One Problem plaguing the Jewish People today - both in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the Diaspora.
In the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:17, the Torah says: "And you will say in your heart: My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this strength". In a very few words, this really sums it up.

Fifty years of the State of Israel - following 2,000 years of Galut, riding on the tails of the holocaust, war after war, terrorist attack after terrorist attack, isolation and alienation - all that considered, with the present state of the country - 50 years isn't bad. We have achieved a tremendous amount. Our national home has been reestablished and Jews from around the world are, for the most part, presently free to live here, if they so choose. We are a home to numerous cultures and religions, not all of whom are necessarily harmonious. We have developed technology second to none, in diverse and vital fields. Our industry is still maturing, but is, and will continue, to grow. On the face of it, we really do have much to feel proud about.
It is also quite important to realize that we have not yet reached the goal. For this, it is necessary to look ahead - to look forward. This is illustrated by the second half of the phrase, dealing with hope. Such is the reality and dream of the Jewish people since time immemorial. There is a continued striving, pushing ahead, with an awareness that the best is yet to come. Without this trait, it is impossible to improve, to rectify past transgressions, to achieve on a higher plane.

So, why then shouldn't the phrase - Together in Pride-Together in Hope - be appropriate?

Following the decision to declare the State, a serious disagreement broke out concerning the writing of the Declaration of Independence. If G-d was not mentioned, the Rabbi's would not sign. If He was mentioned, how would the declared secularists-atheists react? David Ben Gurion's famous compromise spoke of 'Tzur Yisrael' - the Rock of Israel. Everyone could interpret as they saw fit. G-d was left undercover.
When someone does something good for you, the normal response is to say thank you. Thank you isn't only etiquette. Thank you is acknowledgement of the source of the good. Inability to acknowledge isn't only impolite - it is a lack of an essential human characteristic. It is the height of haughtiness. It is in effect saying, "I don't need you or anyone else - only I am responsible for the good, for the success, for the achievement".
What is the source of such manners? Principally it is paucity of education - a deficiency of knowing and understanding the most basic tenets of our existence. If a person really believes that he is fully responsible for all success, he hasn't an inkling of his own faults or lackings. So it is with a nation. If we don't know how to say thank you to He who is responsible for our success. - who are we and what are we?
Very simply, if 50 years ago it was difficult for some to accept G-d's role in our continued existence, the time has come to change. If we want to use the slogan 'Together with Pride - Together with Hope' we must add the most essential words, presently left out - Together in Faith' - the faith of our Forefathers, the faith of our people, in our Rock and our Redeemer. For only He holds us 'together.' Without G-d - there is no 'together.' That is why, today, the Jewish people are so divided.

The verse mentioned above clearly states the dilemma: : "And you will say in your heart: My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this strength". The time has come to move on to the next verse: But thou shall remember the L-rd your G-d, for it is Him who gave you the power to succeed."
After 50 years of Statehood, the time has come to take G-d out of the closet.

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