There is a word you’ll often hear around these parts in any place where people wait. Yalla. The word itself is in a hurry, in two simple syllables holding expressions of ‘let’s go’, ‘we’re done here’, ‘it’s time to move on’ and more.
But more than just a word, ‘yalla’ captures an Israeli mentality which might be necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. The ‘yalla’ mentality allows residents to return to their routines and schedules minutes after a terror attack, to emerge from bomb shelters and continue their day, it allows mothers and fathers of combat soldiers to function. We could not be the ‘Start-Up Nation’ if we weren’t also the ‘Yalla Nation’, a miraculously resilient little people stubbornly building a thriving rose garden (thorns and all) in an impossibly harsh, resistant environment, by insisting on moving on, no matter what.
But the ‘yalla’ mentality is also problematic in its impetuousness and impatience, and we see it first in chapter 32 of the book of Shemot. The Jews are restless. How long are we expected to wait for Moshe? Yalla, let’s get ourselves another leader, and get going already. We’ve been here at Sinai long enough. All of Aharon’s attempts to delay the people fail. They ‘stray quickly from the path’, God tells Moshe.
Sometimes, our desire to move on can come too quickly. We had work to do as a people, there at the foot of the mountain. We weren’t meant to be just idly waiting for Moshe to return. Sinai was an experience we were meant to sit with for a while, to slowly digest, to make it a part of ourselves.
That’s what we’re doing today on Yom Hashoah. We slow down the rhythm of life and stubbornly insist on sitting with a very different kind of experience. There are the voices that say ‘yalla’- we’re obsessed, it’s time to move on, how long can we mourn the tragedies of the past. There’s a place for this mentality, a need for it. But not today. Today is a day for dwelling on the Shoah, for digesting it, for making it a part of ourselves. Because the sad truth is, as far as the Jewish people have come since those dark days, it’s hard to look at the world around us and say the same.
This blog is my own little daily insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation
What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at 929.org.il