Esor Ben-Sorek

A Sabbath of Return

Yesterday, I read an interesting passage written by the Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Sacks, on his observations of Parshat Vayeileich in Deuteronomy, read on Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of return between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Quoting from his remarks… “What do you do when you have achieved it all, when you have risen to whatever career heights fate or providence has in store for you? …. Whatever our life has been thus far, there is another chapter to be written, focused on being a blessing to others, sharing whatever gifts we have with those who have less, handing our values across the generations, using our experience to help others come through difficult times of their own, doing something that has little to do with personal ambition and much to do with wanting to leave some legacy of kindness that made life better for someone”.

It seemed to me, as I read his complete remarks, to be a bit prophetic at this time in our lives as Israelis when we are faced with a prime minister who does much for his personal ambition and who leaves a questionable legacy of any kindness.

Like many, perhaps most of you, I truly wish this affair would quickly come to an end for the sake of our people and our nation.

There is a question frequently found in the Torah, “ma yomru ha goyim?”… what will the nations say?

Can we afford to be close-minded, concerned only with our own affairs, while we are subjected to the criticism of many nations for our failing system of government?

When I speak with non-Jews or non-Israelis I am frequently asked how we can be a major player in the world of technology while at the same time being a failure at governing.

What other nation on the face of the globe has twenty-nine political parties (albeit some very small ones) running for elections?

We are the cirque du monde… the world’s circus. We have too many clowns and not enough strong elephants.

How did Ben-Gurion go wrong? We had a Mapai, a Mapam, General Zionists, and a relatively moderate orthodox religious group in the Knesset. And believe it or not, we had a Communist party under Wilner’s leadership.

But with those relatively active parties we always had stable government. What would Ben-Gurion say of our ridiculous politics and politicians today?

I think that he, like Theodor Herzl, would be turning in the grave. Is this the Zionism of their dreams? Is this the Israel for which our chalutzim (pioneers) drained the swamps, tilled the rocky soil, suffered and died from malaria and from wanton Arab attacks?

Ben-Gurion did not go wrong. Somehow, recent leadership placed self before others. Personal ego and ambition overcame loyalty and devotion to all the people of our State, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Our treatment under the horrific and unnecessary nation-state law, the “baby” of Binyamin Netanyahu, is a shame and a disgrace. Bibi’s “baby” should have died at birth. Only a moron could favor the racist law. Regrettably, they are the no-nothings of pre-State Israeli history.

We should bring back the bravest of them all…the men of the Irgun and Lehi, our greatest heroes of all. We would then have a stabilized government once and for all time.

The entire world knows that Israel is the Jewish State. It is so written in our 1948 Declaration of Independence. There was no need to thrust it in the faces of 20% of our minority population.

Since 1917, under the British Mandate for Palestine, the language law declared 3 as equal national languages,,, Arabic, Hebrew and English, in that order.

It was sheer racism to remove Arabic, the spoken language of our Druze and Arab citizens, from the official designation as one of our national languages, reducing it to a “special status” (whatever it means).

Rabbi Sacks’s remarks should be close to our hearts.

Especially so, this week on Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of return.

Returning to honesty, faith, devotion, dedication, love, humility and righteousness for all.

That is the Israel of my dreams. That is the Israel that I love.

Shabbat shalom. Shuvu l’shalom. A Sabbath of peace. Return to peace.

But with a new government and a new leader. As it is said “In with the new and out with the old”. Bye-bye Bibi!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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