Despite all the positive feedback we got last year for our 40Days4Israel challenge, Israelis still complain too much. I even saw someone coin the term “complainglos” for the growing genre of whiny Times of Israel blog posts by olim who love living in Israel, except for all the things they hate. No connection, of course, to Janglo, my site that has been empowering olim for 12 years.
Its easy to complain. And sort of fun. But it rots our souls and weakens our nation. The 40Days4Israel challenge is designed to strengthen you and bring you back to your core values. The idea is simple: During the 40- day period from Friday, 29 Sivan (June 7) through 9 Av (July 16), we challenge you to go without saying anything negative about anything in Israel.
Why these 40 days? This is the period that tradition associates with the biblical sin of the spies. The story is well known: Moses sent 12 spies to find out the best way to conquer the Promised Land, but when they came back, they instead complained, causing a national crisis of despair. G-d, frustrated by the nation’s negativity and lack of gratitude, did what many parents would do in a similar situation: he took the gift away for 40 years, a year per day spent spying. According to tradition, the final straw was on the ninth of Av, a day that would later become Israel’s worst day of mourning throughout history. The biblical narrative clearly indicates that complaining and negativity is much worse than, say, women wearing tallitot or singing in prayer.
It may or may not be coincidence that this time of year is usually when Jews in Israel seem to fight each other the most.
The big picture is that excessive negativity remains the Jewish people’s worst vice, and remains the source of our lack of unity and many of our biggest problems. The only way we can cure ourselves is one person at a time, starting now.
Some people think that their complaining is productive, maybe even a form of activism. I think a lot of the “complainglo” bloggers and Facebookers really think their voice will help bring about change. A quick look at the comments that follow shows that the opposite effect usually occurs. Negativity breeds negativity, weakens those who already live here, and turn off potential future olim. I suspect the spies in the biblical story also thought they were going to improve people’s lives.
Its not about creating apathy, its about gaining the wisdom to know when action is needed. Psychologists, sociologists, and scientists all agree that ridding your life of complaining and ingratitude is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your environment. If you don’t want to help the Jewish people, do it for yourself!
Last year, we found that a lot of people really liked the idea, but had trouble bringing it into reality. If that’s your case, here’s an easier challenge that will rock your world. Instead of focusing on the negative, try praying for the good. Instead of hating the government, ask G-d every day that they be given the wisdom and guidance to lead us properly. Instead of complaining about prices, pray for the ability to enjoy everything you need. Whether or not your prayers are answered, you’ll probably be a different person by day 3.
My site, Janglo, updates its news section every day with good news from and about Israel. During the 40Days4Israel campaign, we’ll be making extra efforts to highlight all of the amazing things going on here. We encourage you to take similar steps in your personal life, on your web site, in your classes, or on social media. the 40Days4Israel project is open source, so feel free to take whatever you like and use it, rework it, mash it up, or repackage it. Janglo is cooperating with several other Israel-loving organizations on the project. Feel free to join us.