030~ As long as in the heart within...
Updated: Aug 24
I can't count the times I've sung the Israeli Anthem. Gazillion, maybe? I never found it fun or uplifting... I don't think it has to be either.
Suddenly - sometime in the past decade, and quite honestly, with the Israeli political atmosphere which has started turning more and more radical, I suddenly realized the beauty of the first (the very first!) line of the anthem. I ask people around me how the anthem starts - and usually the answer I get is a miss - since quite understandably they attach the second line to the first. But once I saw it the way I did - I couldn't un see it anymore...
Just to make things clear: "The Jewish soul yearns" is how the Anthem continues.
As important as it is for me as an Israeli and a Jew, it's quite specific, and I like to look at the idea behind the first line in general, as a great tip for everybody in every situation.
"As long as in the heart, within" ... "Kol Od Balevav Penima." OMG. The secret for getting along, and on page 1!
Look no further.
There it is. Naftali Herz Imber - 200 years ago - what a genius. His immortal tip remains relevant even after all these years, with all tech and human race advancements. It suggests that it's best to keep your thoughts to yourself and feel proud and accept yourself inwardly. Spare the rest of us. Just be happy with who you are - without demanding other people to obey your ideology or beliefs. Be it a yarmulke, a badge, a flag. It's all okay...pretty much.
I've recently been asked to plan a workshop dealing with German-Jewish relations. It took me a couple of hours to realize where the challenge was in trying to assess this relationship, and then it struck me. The issue lies in the blending of two groups that cannot be compared as they are not situated on the same axis for comparison.
German-Israeli relations – I understand that.
Christian-Jewish relations – I understand that.
But German-Jewish is Nation-Religion
To identify as German, Israeli, or British signifies adhering to a nation's earthly regulations - paying taxes, serving the country, working... that's essentially the crux of it.
To be Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or any other religion involves aligning with a spiritual realm. I'm indifferent if it's seen as higher or lower, but it is abstract, lacking tangible assets in a material sense. Theoretically speaking...
But then there are synagogues, churches, and mosques – various tools of worship that are undoubtedly tangible, and quite exhilarating, I must admit. Holding a 2000-year-old lamp from the Jewish temple or even just opening the Torah during my 13th-year Bar Mitzvah ceremony felt like immersing myself in ancient rituals and traditions. I can feel the excitement, and I can comprehend its significance in guiding an individual through the waves of doubt and uncertainty...and beyond.
I can perceive its role in maintaining a family's tradition, something that connects communities and traverses generations – encompassing those who are present and those who have passed. Religion wields that spiritual power, carrying with it a profound ability to create continuity and meaning.
But what happens when religion begins to engage with earthly matters? – real estate, war, famine, politics – and when nations begin to transmit spiritual messages and adopt rituals?
When religion becomes entangled in practical affairs like real estate, war, or famine, the dynamics can become complex. Such involvement can potentially blur the lines between the spiritual and the material, raising ethical questions about the appropriate role of religious institutions in these domains. The sacred and the practical intertwine, which can sometimes lead to conflicts of interest, power struggles, and even exploitation.
Conversely, when nations employ spiritual messages and rituals, it introduces an interesting interplay between the secular and the sacred. This fusion can wield substantial influence, tapping into deep-seated beliefs and values to shape public opinion or garner support for certain actions. However, this practice can also be perceived as manipulative, especially when religious sentiments are used to justify political decisions or policies.
In both cases, the convergence of the spiritual and the worldly necessitates careful consideration of the impact on both individuals and societies, and the potential consequences of blurring these boundaries.
Well, when it's all out there, we probably start offending people. We should realize and work things out. That doesn't mean giving up carnivals, yarmulkes, or wearing a tutu and a skin shirt.
Just to be aware that people around us think and live differently than we do. When ritual ornaments find their sacred way into governance, righteousness can lead to dangerous situations. The thrill of one ethnic group might very well be the dread of another or others.
Marching around the old city of Jerusalem, which is almost completely populated by Muslims and Palestinians, should not be the right way to "celebrate" a Jewish tradition, in my eyes. Instead, it could involve hosting tables with drinks and food, creating a big unifying festival, rather than displaying spiteful flags that can provoke negative reactions.
As long as hosting such tables remains a distant (not to say hallucinative) dream, it's better to keep "your pride" within and be confident that it is the right thing for you individually. Keeping your feelings inside is okay.
Enforcing your beliefs on others daily and hourly is not the best way to move forward and develop a broader understanding...or peace. I guess the trick to avoiding being a part of this is remembering the thin line between spirituality in religion and the earthly power bestowed toward sovereignty.
Yad Vashem entrance hall