Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Biggest Enemy? Apathy!

Many would question my provocative title. Had I written, "Biggest Enemy- Chamas," or "Fundamentalistic Islam," or even "Revival of World Anti-Semitism" most would refrain from eyebrow raising. However, I stand by my words and will explain why:

A baalat teshuva, after becoming religious I was taught 40 years ago that G-d is responsible for all that occurs here in our world. As I read, according to Rabbenu Bachaye (of the renowned book "Chovot Ha'levavot,") should a worm raise its head above ground and a Jew deems this coincidental, he is a heretic! Other Rabbis disagree and are less apt to deem the person a non-believer.

Regardless, the phrase "G-d helps those who helps themselves" is also an integral part of Judaism with the rabbinical supposition in Hebrew, "Ha'ba le'tahair, mi'syin b'yado." That translates roughly as, "He who comes to be purified (do a good deed,) gains heavenly assistance." As I teach my Ulpana girls at school, I firmly believe that this is relevant for every positive action and not just mitzvot De'orita. (Mitzvot specifically mentioned outright in our Torah.) I tell my pupils that if they do their utmost to succeed in their studies, Hashem will surely aid them with heavenly assistance.

I may have grown up in a non-observant zionistic home, nonetheless I was taught many ethical truths. One is that should one refrain from an attempt to change an injustice, he loses the right to complain about that injustice. Hence, from the age of ten I belonged to the SSSJ (the "Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry") and wrote countless letters to refuseniks in the former USSR.
This is also why I have in mind daily in my prayers when written, "... matir assurim...," ("... who frees captives..." ) Jonathan ben Malka Pollard and Gilad ben Aviva Shalit. Additionally, I call the White House (have American citizenship) as well as send e-mails and sign petitions for both captives. Likewise, we should utilize our Internet access to protest the despicable conference now in progress in Geneva. What reprehensible hypocrisy!

The moral morass we find ourselves living in during the present era is in no way conducive to promoting actions like petition signing; taking part in demonstrating; sending e-mails; etc. However, as my husband, a graduate of the prestigious ultra-Orthodox Ponevich Yeshiva told me before the expulsion from Gush Katif, "Dear, what will we say in heaven when we are asked, "What did you do for the sake of the Land of Israel and Am Yisrael? What will we be able to answer ?"

He continued, "Please, I want you to go to each and every demonstration while I remain home and learn Torah for the sake of the success of these public gatherings!" This was, on the face of it, not in character with our beliefs, as I usually refrain from mixed demonstrations; I dislike the intermingling of men and women as physically bumping into men makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable, although I do not judge others who attend such demonstrations for worthy causes. So yes, I went to each and every demonstration although deep down I felt it was a futile attempt to change our despicable government policy. Why? I would never have been able to forgive myself had I not.

Thus, even today, although it is surely futile, I occasionally pen an e-mail to CNN and BBC to complain about their subjective pro-Arab reporting and sign petitions that deal with environmental issues. I still recall my Mom, an eloquent speaker, phoning our N.Y. Congressmen and State Senators to fight for what she believed right. So, by now I assume you gather that my personal philosophy is that one must do whatever possible to promote our Jewish moral and physical survival both here and abroad without the convenient prevalent cop-out, "....it won't change a thing in any event." The same can be said for other issues such as saving water here in Israel; other vital environmental issues and fighting injustice on the international stage.

In conclusions, you've learned two things I believe in: Firstly,yes, indeed there are zionistic Israeli Orthodox Jewish charedim, and not just "chutznik" ones raised abroad despite what you may think, (for I am married to one!) And secondly, our most significant challenge as Jews today is to overcome the inertia of doing nothing to change injustice anywhere in the world, especially those issues that affect our country and our people.

Chodesh Tov, my dear brothers and sisters, whatever your affiliation!


goyisherebbe said...

G-d bless you and all the holy Jews of Netivot. I have some distant relatives in the hesder yeshiva there. May we all be united for Torah, Hashem and Eretz Yisrael.

Netivotgirl said...

AMEN from your mouth to G-d's ears, as they say! Thankfully Netivot has always been religious, but 20 years or so ago, most successful young folks would marry and move elsewhere. It was sad!

Boruch Hashem, today we have thousands of frum Jews with every kind of Kippa under the sun-- from the big Breslov white, to every size of knitted, to the black, with a few chasidishe garbed men thrown in.

May we all unite and merit the coming of Moshiach as the result!