Initials

It is customary for automobiles to have a bumper sticker on the rear of the automobile which identifies the owner’s country by its initials especially when the driver is crossing a country’s border.

I have been giving some hard thought to turning in the IL sticker (Israel) for the more recognized peace-loving CH (Confoederatio Helvetica) best known as Switzerland. The name of the Swiss Confederation has been in use since 1677 when it replaced the earlier name of SchweizerStier in the 1580’s.

The Swiss have four spoken official languages… French, German, Italian and Schwitzerdeutsch… and none of the residents of the Swiss cantons have gone to war with other nations. Switzerland is internationally renowned and acclaimed as a country of equality and peace for all.

Yet when all is said and done, I could never replace an IL for initials of any other nation.

But when initials pop into my head, I like most of all the two B’s… B & B. The earlier generation of Israelis will remember. They represent important names in our history. For the younger generation they are names which they read in school history books.

The most interesting fact about these two initials is that they represent two diametrically opposed men who disliked one another intensely but who shared a burning love for Zionism and a Jewish State.

The first B was Ben-Gurion. The second B was Begin. They fought in separate “armies” and led two different political parties. Yet each one was triumphant in the birth of our nation and its development.

Putting aside temporarily their infamous “Altalena affair” on the beachfront of Tel-Aviv in June 1948, less than one month after our independence, the dreaded battle between the newly formed Israel Defense Forces and the former underground Irgun fighters, the first at the command of Ben-Gurion and the second at the request of Begin was a culmination of pre-State years of rivalry and personal hatred between the two B’s.

Each one of them was correct at the time in upholding their vision for the newborn State of Israel but it took many years for calm to dispel the bitterness. And not all the past bitter years have disappeared .

We are experiencing a similar situation today. One of divisiveness, of discontent, of dissatisfaction, of bitterness and rivalry…. All in the name of love for Israel.

I am all in favor of bringing back the Irgun and the Stern Gang . Instead of demolishing British rule, we are today being demolished by the rule of pre-medieval halachic authority by zealots who are familiar with the names of Rambam and Ramban but who have never read Shakespeare nor listened to Mozart.

The “war” is ongoing between the ultra-religious and the moderate secularists. Only one can win and both can lose. Two very divergent opinions on how Israel should be governed… by Tolerance or by Torah.

Both are possible if both groups will it. Regrettably, Israel and Israelis suffer from a very incurable disease known as “akshanut”… stubborn-itis. And the only healer is the Heavenly Healer who is looking down at us and smiling.

“My Children are quarelling over Me”, He says . He looks but He does not interfere.

It is a repetition of the battles between the two B’s.

But the question of a choice of the IL or the CH automobile stickers has long ceased to be a dilemma for me, if even there ever was one.

The decision was rendered by another B (Ben-Yehuda, founder and creator of the Modern Hebrew language). He favored the CH (Choose Hebrew).

And it was passed on to another B (Ben-Sorek) who prefers the IL (Israel Lives).

In that way there will be peace between brothers.

And it goes without saying, between sisters as well.

But more important, surely we can never neglect the two H’s. One H is for Herzl, father of Zionism. The other H is for Hatikvah, the song of hope and Israel’s national anthem.

And finally there are the first and last initials in the Hebrew alphabet. The first one, Aleph, stands for Elohim (God) and the last one,Tav, stands for Torah (the laws of God).

Ma tov lichyot im koolchem. How pleasant it is to live with all of them. Initials of Integrity, Idealism, Immortality….and of our four thousand year old language— Ivrit.

In gematria, if I am not mistaken, the number equivalents of the letters ayin, bet, resh, yud and tav in the Hebrew word ivrit equals 682. All which add up to number 16 which in turn adds up to number 7. The 7th day of the week . The holy sabbath day.

Shmor et yom ha shabbat va yikadshehu. Remember the Sabbath day (the 7th day of the week) and keep it holy. The 4th of the 10 commandments delivered to the Children of Israel (to you, to me and to our offspring) on Mt. Sinai

Amazing what initials can reveal !

But there is one initial that should be discarded to the garbage heap. It too begins with the letter B. He should gracefully resign for reasons of health caused by stress. Better for him to step down rather than being thrown out and disinherited by his Likud baby. Ooops… I forgot ! There is no Likud party anymore. It’s only the Netanyahu party ! Oh my God………………..

An on-the-way-out corrupt and guilty-as-charged prime minister (hopefully and soon an X- prime minister. Insh’Allah. Im yirtzeh Hashem. Ken yehi ratzon).

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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