jewishsightseeing.com, Aug. 18, 2005
By Ira Sharkansky
exchange with a religious friend, whose daughter and her family have lived in
one of the
Varda and I hope that these difficult days pass with a minimum of discomfort for you and your family, and that you all adjust to the new realities, whatever they may be. We know that this can sound like little more than platitude, but we ask that you accept it as our deeply felt concern.
Thank you for
your wishes. We'll have to take time in the future to explain things. I am
very proud of my children & grandchildren who are at this very moment
expressing the ideology I have succeeded in instilling in them; the same
ideology which the Jewish people have succeeded in passing on from
youngest son was born, we named him Mattan. For us it meant that he was a gift
received at our not so young age. I recall that you were at the brit, and
explained to me at one point what the mohel wanted from me.
A bit later, I
located the name Mattan in a Bible dictionary, and looked it up in the Book of
Jeremiah. What I found was a minor character, but more important that the Book
of Jeremiah was politics at its most exciting. From there I read the entire
Bible, and came to see the importance of politics in Jewish history, as well
as the centrality of Jewish history in Judaism.
Along the way I came to realize the importance of coping in dealing with
serious problems, thanks in part to my older daughter Erica, a clinical
psychologist. Coping is one of Jews' acquired traits, apparent in the behavior
of the Almighty as well as Moses, David, and other ancient heroes.
uncertain of ourselves, and the legitimacy of criticism, appears throughout
the Bible, most prominently in the prophets, and throughout all that I have
studied in the Talmud. These traits, acquired
as part of our culture, help
to explain why
minor problems of an observer during this difficult week, I find myself
alternatively infuriated and touched most positively by the behavior of my
fellow Jews. I see the decision to withdraw as an expression of coping. It is
far from optimal, but has been explained and approved by our democratic
procedures as a viable way to deal with conflicting pressures.
implementation is not neat. We are, fortunately, not Prussian in our
exactitude and discipline. But for the most part, there
has been mutual understanding and accommodation. Some will see this withdrawal
as the equivalent of the evils imposed on the ancient Jews by Greek autocrats.
Others will see this as a shallow parallel, while the real event is Jewish
heroism as we limit ourselves in order to strengthen ourselves. I am confident
that we will be strong enough to live with these different interpretations,
just as we have learned to accept contrasting perspectives on many other
issues. That is part of coping. Our strength is that we learned the lessons
long ago, and that we cope better than most.
Sharkansky is a member of the political science department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem