Days of Awe

Frankly, I must have written at least a dozen chronicles about the Yamim Noraim, the ten “days of awe” that stand between the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, starting this Sunday. But never before, in my career as a chronicler, have I found such a fiercely justified historical analogy, in addition to my own personal introspection. Yes. Although I do not believe in any God (and in days like these, who would?) or profess any religion, I have never passed up the opportunity to enjoy this healthy annual reflection that culminates in ritual fasting. Which this year, more than ever, could acquire a supracultural sense, since the unfortunate waves of refugees have perished not only by drowning and oblivion, but also, simply, due to hunger, as determined by the Brazilian corvette that the other day rescued some of them near the coast of Sicily.

It is indeed very touching this whole wave of solidarity expressing compassion on social networks, the same networks that, in fact, have a crucial role not in migrants’ salvation, but in the propagation of a remote possibility of escape, since a local reaction to their misery is not advised. At any rate, who would be willing to talk about anything more profound? The important thing is not to understand what’s behind the facts, but solely being aware that we are following the right path, a simple matter of two plus two: Photo of boy dead by drowning plus Europe looking bad, equals “death to Europe for letting the boy die.”

Make no mistake. I’m not saying that by opening our doors, a Christian obligation, we will be succumbing to a given (im)position. But one needs to understand the historical perspective that brought us to this moment in time, and the reason why a few world leaders — including Netanyahu, for example, to whom the press does not hesitate a second to point out the finger — may be acting correctly, although they seem to be terribly unfair; while others may be terribly mistaken,  although in our eyes they might be doing the right thing — like Angela Merkel, which lately is being led to take a stand on controversial and crucial issues concerning the future of civilization on an almost daily basis.

Writers, poets and columnists must, as widely expected, gather around a single unified point: There is now a terrible need for human solidarity, which must be exerted at all costs, because “the barbarians had triumphed” and we must peremptorily deny them this undeserved triumph. The barbarians they’re talking about being the cruel and degenerate current European leaders, who, understandably enough, hesitate as to what must be done concerning the tsunamis of émigrés. How to house them, feed them, save them from the inevitable disaster they had already risked through an incredibly desperate act, as they boarded those fragile boats, being trafficked at a high price? How to take care of all these people and, at the same time, protect their (our) social sense of security and quality of life, the obvious achievements they are seeking as refugees?

They are fleeing their countries like the plague. And make no mistake, the disease they fear is the overwhelming threat that turned their existence into pure acts of terror, so let us try to understand. As a cursing Hydra, the monster that pushes them out of the hell of their own doings has several heads, and I do not know if for every severed one two or three others are born in unbridled proliferation, as befits a myth on the rise. And we still didn’t get to the diplomacy claims of the Obama administration.

That’s right. With the exception of those despicable radicals who have lately been risking their extremist views in public, everybody is applauding the unprecedented nuclear agreement with Iran, which will be probably voted on by Congress precisely during the “days of repentance” that precede Yom Kippur. What are the odds? They seem to be rolling loaded dice, or, on the other hand, someone could argue: “God does not play dice.” This year, apparently, it’s not only the Jews that will be judged, but the whole of humanity, judged by the righteousness of their thoughtless acts.

I know. Having read this far, you must be certain that I totally lost it. What kind of connection might exist between the picture of the drowned boy, the nuclear agreement that was signed and the much-propagated intolerance of the State of Israel?

However, I’m not so sure as to who would be the real barbarians; and I tend to believe they are not the Europeans by any means, but the barbarians of ISIS, of the Syrian Assad and others like them who did, and are still doing what they can to provoke the escape of these poor refugees. And it is about them that we should be worried — all of them, by the way, being financed by the Iranian government. That, in turn, will have its financing capacity incredibly enhanced by this new agreement, no need to mention the risk of nuclear proliferation.

This entire ideological complex could perhaps be explained by some kind of tampered butterfly effect. It is a historical disaster, a war clock that would need to embark upon a hypothetical time machine in order to return to a recent past, when Saddam Hussein was brought down for the wrong reasons, leaving in his place a vacuum soon to be filled by these much more troubling forces of evil.  A legitimate evil right now on its way, randomly or intentionally (and please, I’m not referring to the poor refugees, mass of maneuver) “completing the invasion of Europe” left aside centuries ago, when it was won by the Enlightenment ideals, by the rise of logical thought and philosophical development. Which, in turn, must have been sustained by corrupt demon-possessed leaders.

Anyway, our lost humanity has no remedy.

Waves of collective consciousness are always welcome, I believe. Every human desperate life should be conveniently spared, carefully alleviated. Each of us has every right to our fair share of sympathy, support and solidarity offered by the next-door neighbor. But I also believe that more than ever the impossible solution for all our humanitarian dilemmas is to reject political truisms, momentary vanities, deceptive appearances and radical divisions on social networks. How? Honestly, I do not know.

All I know is that we should not rush to express our views. We must avoid manifesting ourselves as a manipulated herd that reacts to the distant swishes of a hypothetical whipping, our emotional buttons all being tightened by forces that we see, but we cannot grasp.

It may well be that after ten days dedicated to prayer, to the reflection and serious research that must precede any fair statement of fact, we will all be forgiven by a merciful God. Because deep down at the bottom, we all came from a mother and an act of love, even the most despicable among us — with the sole exception of the unfortunate ones born of violently orchestrated rapes, but this is not the right occasion to mention it.

There’s not much we can do to save our skin, because our trial is already under way, as well as congressional support to the nuclear agreement. If the terrible God of the Bible does not succeed in condemning us, the march of history certainly will. We can only hope, do small acts of love and enjoy the family ties that may comfort us in everyday life.

All we can do is try to issue some kind of alert, to write down our personal truth, no matter how disturbing it might be, in order to encourage critical thinking without any hidden political manipulative agenda.

I hope that in the next few days we may all be properly inscribed in the Book of Life. As they say in Hebrew, “Gmar chatimah tovah” — literally, may we all finish this sad chapter with a wisely signed agreement, which will favor our fate in this coming new year.

Shalom and Shanah Tovah!

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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