It is a wonderous fact of nature that dolphins in the wild blue sea sleep with only half their brain, one eye closed, while the other half of the brain remains awake and vigilant, eye open. Place that very same dolphin in captivity, far away and protected from its natural predators, such as great white sharks and killer whales, and the entire dolphin brain will allow for restful slumber, all at once, both eyes closed, keeping their blowhole above water by a reflex tail kick when necessary for breathing.
Without sleep, or with too little or too much sleep, dolphins, and humans and almost all other species on the planet, would not readily survive. Sleep is, in fact, life! So much happens in the brain during normal sleep that prepares us for the next day, that it would not be possible to function without it – from increased memory retention, alertness, positive mood, chemical rebalancing to overall energy balance.
For the purpose (not porpoise) of this discussion, sleep is life in and of itself, for sleep prepares us for business, prayer, music and dance, security, art, family, competition, learning, love and all of the myriad marvels of day in and day out life.
Life without vigilance, as we learned so painfully on October 7th, is threatened, fragile, aching. The Sate of Israel was living the life of the captive dolphin, fully asleep – a life that sought work and pleasure only – no cautious or attentive eye kept open simultaneously to carefully monitor and react to the predators in our midst.
As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of us had preferred to believe that our mortal enemies concerned themselves only with the economic incentives that provide the bedrock of a productive and satiated lifestyle. We were, in fact, held captive by this concept as if all the guards of the proverbial watchtower had dozed off in belief that the howl of the wolves was simply an empty and vacuous call of the wild.
Indeed, it is almost impossible for the citizens of Israel to live without the normal activities of life that sleep provides, but by living the lie that this is what are enemies also desire, we became like dolphins in captivity, dreaming of tomorrow’s ventures in the knowledge that we were protected from the sharks we had known while still out in the wild.
There were, however, those that protested – those that warned us that too much sleep is dangerous, even life-threatening. Tragically, our leaders, both on the right wing of the spectrum and the entire left, chose sleep without an alarm bell, sleep without interference by the nasty realities of our surroundings.
The repeated warnings of General Yitzchak Brick, Orit Strook, Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, General Efi Eitam, the Druze, the valiant women soldiers that (wo)manned the observation posts along the Gaza border, and a host of others were disdainfully ignored. Worse, even today those that were the guiltiest of oversleep consider those cautionary voices as those of the town idiots, the fools of false narrative, the triggerers of false alarms.
It is hoped that those that disdained the warnings, those that were the most profoundly guilty of falling asleep at the watch, those that are seemingly incapable of learning from their Jewish and Druze brothers, will at the very least learn from the dolphin.
Israel can both sleep and live while simultaneously remaining aware of the dangers, reacting forcefully when need be. It is a difficult balancing act, but if dolphins can do it……………………………..