Saturday, December 18, 2004


Musings #88
December 16, ‏2004
The 4th of Tevet

We’re in Big Trouble!

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up."- Babe Ruth

There’s a lot of wisdom in sports, sportsmanship and sportsmen. Babe Ruth was right. Our politicians have given up, so we’re in big trouble.
If our politicians are leading us anywhere, it’s not where I want to be. That’s for sure.

This past week, I was at the Begin Heritage Center for the Begin Prize Ceremony. It was a very inspiring evening. The winners were all people who had done something above the norm. Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that facilitates aliyah from North America, doing what the Jewish Agency and Israeli government should be doing, won the Begin Prize. The initiators of that organization had a dream to help North American Jews make aliyah. They didn’t give up, and today hundreds of Jews are successfully living in Israel due to their assistance.

Special recognition was also given to two extraordinary people. The first was a man who has captured the hearts of many by his rare and remarkable generosity. Eric Swim, an American, who donated one of his kidneys to Moshiko Sharon, an Israeli boy. Little Moshiko was dying. The call went out throughout the world that Moshiko needed a kidney. Rationally and logically, there was very little chance that a kidney would be found, certainly not from a live man. But they had a dream, and reality caught up with the dream. They didn’t give up.

And, what a donor! When Mr. Swim spoke to the crowd, it was clear that he had no idea why we all found him so admirable. He spoke with simple faith and ended his words with a chapter of T’hilim, psalms, in Hebrew. As he struggled reading a language he barely knows, most of the crowd recited along with him, and the rest wept.

The final recipient was Israel’s top female athlete, Keren Leibowitz, the winner of seven medals, including five gold ones, at the Olympics for the physically handicapped. Giving up, even after being seriously injured in the army, is not in her vocabulary.

One of the speakers, Salai Meridor, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, quoted Herzl as he spoke about the recipients to the crowded auditorium. “Im tirtzu, ain zu agadah,” “If you truly wish it, it’s not make-believe.” And right before our eyes, we saw people whose dream became real life.

There are people in our very special country who have the strength to dream and make their dreams come true. That’s why it’s so disturbing that our government is filled with weak, faithless people. How can it be? Even those who seemed strong and idealistic before assuming office changed and lost their faith and confidence. I wonder if it’s like what we see on television. There’s the old comedy, “Yes, Minister,” the old British TV show that depicted the behind the scenes workings of the British government, run by the civil servants, the unseen clerks and secretaries. But I have trouble believing that Arik Sharon could be manipulated and controlled by some civil servants.

Then there’s another TV show, ‘’The Agency,” that depicts the inner workings of the American CIA. This program features technology that seems more science fiction than reality, even in the twenty first century. One memorable scene showed a clandestine medical exam of a foreign visitor while he was meeting a CIA official. Somehow, as he sat in the comfortable, innocent-looking office chair, all of his vital signs were measured, and if I’m not mistaken, he was also x-rayed. All of this, while he believed that he was just talking. Is someone zapping our politicians’ brains? Are they being controlled by ___? This is starting to get very spooky.

Or are our politicians just “burnt-out,” like many professionals? Are they tired of bucking the world? Are they looking for praise from those who had previously rejected them? In that sense the two who made the most radical changes, Menachem Begin and Arik Sharon, have the most in common. They were the most reviled by the media and international leaders before becoming prime minister, and then, all of a sudden, they proposed policies that they had been totally against previously.

Our greatest Biblical leaders, Moshe Rabenu and Shmuel HaNavi (Samuel the Prophet), also had trouble with the pressures trying to get public support. They both complained to G-d about the difficulties in leading the Jewish People, but in the end they prevailed. Moshe led us to the Land of Israel, and Shmuel crowned our first two kings, Saul and David.

I have a little advice for our politicians:

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

As said by American President Harry Truman’s friend, Harry Vaughan, Time, April 28, 1952 *

*Results from Internet Collections: 20th Century Quotations

Batya Medad, Shiloh

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