The Jerusalem Post

Onward to the future

- • By BARRY LYNN The writer is a senior researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and chief scientist at Weather It Is, LTD.

The Passover Haggadah tells us that in every generation someone rises up to destroy us. In fact, it seems like it’s not just every generation, but every year – if not month or even day. The ninth of Av has just passed us by, but the lead up to and the day itself seems to hit me harder every year. I worry about us. The modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, and one can count 73 birthdays since then. Yet, from the embarrassi­ng and demeaning behavior of our politician­s and so-called religious leaders, to the efforts of, for example, Ben & Jerry’s board member BDSers, I feel the weight of history closing in. The Second Temple stood for almost 600 years. So, is our present relatively short sojourn in the Land of Israel really a cause for confidence?

The Talmud states that the Temple was destroyed because of hatred of one Jew for another. In this regard, has the behavior of those we should hold up as paragons of virtue our religious leadership been reassuring? I would argue otherwise. Numerous times, the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) leadership sought to invalidate the conversion­s of national-religious rabbis, despite the Torah admonition to welcome the convert. The Western Wall agreement with non-Orthodox groups was suspended (canceled), closing a link to our overseas brethren. A “Reform rabbi” is shunned; those who disagree with the religious leadership are insulted; a bar mitzvah is interrupte­d. Among our political leadership, insults fly and parties vote against their positions out of spite.

This Tisha Be’Av I watched Schindler’s List. It is both a very disturbing yet uplifting story. Hopelessne­ss and death permeate most of the movie. Someone said to me: did Jews behave any differentl­y to each other back then than they do now? Are we not testing God’s patience? Uplifting because one comes to see what one man, a nonJew, sacrificed to save many. Schindler, himself apparently not a paragon of virtue, chose to do change for the better. He took it upon himself to save more than 1,000 people from the Nazi death camps, whose thousands of descendant­s live now. Near the end of the movie, the recently freed inmates inquire as to where they should go. The Soviet officer says don’t go east, you’re not wanted there, and don’t go west either. I saw that movie almost 30 years ago, and some 20 years prior I moved to Israel. I didn’t grow up with the desire to live here, but came to realize that it is only in Israel that a Jewish person can feel – well Jewish. It’s a place where Jewish life can and has flourished, despite the hardships and efforts of our enemies.

Soon, Tu Be’Av will be upon us. This day is supposedly a time of miracles, e.g., the end of the plague that accompanie­d the Jews in the desert for 40 years. It is also a day when traditiona­lly the “maidens” of Jerusalem would go out and dance, hoping to catch the eye of a young suitor. A greater miracle is when both sides learn that love requires more than care and considerat­ion, but also that words of criticism need to become words of respect for our difference­s.

The hope this holiday instills in us helps to ensure that the future of our country moves past those who wish our destructio­n. And, so it is, when the world has me down, I find nothing more uplifting than encounteri­ng a young couple with a new life on the way, or one already rolling along – past this generation into the next.

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