“Did you see what happened in Belgium?” he asked me.
I had just woken up. I haven’t seen anything. Actually, because of the investigation of the surreal corruption scandal that is happening in Brazil and how it is changing the political reality everyday, I haven’t read about what is happening in other countries.
“What happened in Belgium?”
“A horrible terrorist attack,” he said.
I scrolled down my news feed. Pictures, videos, numbers of victims and reports about the attack were everywhere. The scenes seemed a European version of Israel’s everyday reality. I could only imagine the fear of the people in Brussels.
“What do you think is going to happen?” he asked.
“Terrorism is one of the biggest challenges of the European Union today,” I said. What else had he wanted me to say? I knew what he wanted, a complete analysis of the problem, including possible solutions and guilty parts, all of which I was simply too tired to come up with.
“I think more Jews will be making aliyah from Europe,” he said.
“We are definitely living a messianic era. Can’t you see? Jews are going to Israel in large scale. The prophecies are becoming reality.”
I really love Orthodox Judaism and I try, as much as I can, to be an observant Jew, even if the Galut doesn’t help me. However, I must admit that I have a liberal Jew inside of my heart. A part of me that has the hope for humanity that Stefan Zweig had and the sense of humor of Philip Roth. So, comments like the one my friend made have the mysterious ability to poke that liberal Jew inside of me.
“I don’t know… I think It is a little strong to say that we’re living a messianic era. I know some folks believe that we are living in such era because of the political freedom and sovereignty the we have today. However, I remember what Amos Oz (with Fania Oz-Salzberger) wrote in a book called The Jews and the Words. It was something like: nothing that wasn’t a democracy would have worked on the new born State of Israel and Ben-Gurion was too much of a democrat and a down-to-earth man to covet a messianic tunic. I mean, the political philosophy of the modern state today is very different from the political reality of the biblical times. I think Israel is the first flowering of our redemption, but we still have to improve ourselves, as a people and individuals, in order to get to the messianic era,” I explained.
“Are you insane?”
I knew he would say that, but what can I do? He had poked the liberal Jew inside of me.
“No, as Sheldon Cooper would probably say. My mom had me tested!”
“Seriously!!” he said.
“I’m serious; I have regular appointments with my psychologist,” I said. I think people take such debates very seriously. I always remember another quote from The Jews and the Words, when I find myself in a conversation like this.
“G’d? If he exist, he must be Jewish. If he is Jewish, he surely understand some Ladino and Yiddish. If he understands Ladino or Yiddish, surely he’ll know what to say if any ordinary jokester in Morocco or Vilna, Jerusalem or New York, makes a joke with him. Hot er gesogt! So he said! And? Why should I care? — Say G’d shrugging.”
“So, don’t you believe that the third temple will be rebuilt? And that we will all live in peace? And that all the nations in the world will revere one G’d?” he was actually shocked.
“I think the third temple is more like a metaphor than an actual building. I think peace in the world is something the we should aspire to, but that conflicts will always exist, however we can minimize them. I hope humanity can achieve a future like the opening of the Star Trek series. The part of “every nation of the world will revere one G’d” gives me chills sometimes. History has shown us that the peace achieved through freedom and rule of law can only be obtain if you allow individuals to believe in the G’d they want and practice their religion in the way they want.”
“What?! You’re a very weird religious Jewish girl”, he said.
“Thanks, I guess.”
“I mean, you’re religious, you believe in HaShem, keep kosher and keep shabbas… I don’t understand! Why are you always reticent about our desire and right to the biblical territory of Israel, our commandment to build our third temple or the fact that liberal Jews destroy our Torah?!” he asked, distressed.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure. I believe I have a hard time trying to mix religion and politics. Maybe I’m just too influenced by secular values or liberal democracy. I go to the shul. I read, pray and love my siddur and what I learn everyday by reading the Torah; however, when I think about politics and society, I’m the most secular soul one can think of… I like to separate things. Also, I think I can learn from all the movements of Judaism and their thinkers, and that everyone has the right to practice our tradition as they see fit.”
He was right.
Sometimes I feel like a walking metamorphosis.
Maybe I’m a weird religious girl.