It’s All Too Much

Hobbes Leviathan
Hobbes’ Leviathan (a state with a monopoly on the use of force) Guards the Country against a Nasty, Brutish, and Short Life

Kidnappings, murder and riots. Violence in Gaza, Syria, Hebron, Jerusalem. Chaos in Iraq spreading in our direction…

Things are too complicated and fast paced for me to even feel, let alone think. I can’t rail against the evil enemy, for I am too overcome with grief and fear of unbridled vengeance and hatred. I can’t criticize my own for murdering Arabs, because we don’t know if that’s what happened, and we’ll get enough of that from the rest of the world whether it’s true or not. Everything going on now is just befuddling. Things fall apart, indeed.

But the center holds

Order and habit prevail. We still live in a state of laws, a functioning country. We go to work, write blog posts as the air-conditioner blows in the background, drop kids off at summer camp, and so on.

For many these everyday occurrences are nothing to celebrate. But I’m not as confident in the staying power of civilization as many are, not to mention peace and liberal democracy. I marvel that order and structure of such magnificence has risen from thousands of years of chaos and mayhem, and I don’t count out the possibility of a slide back into darkness. We’ve only had this civilization for 500 years. Rome lasted nearly a thousand before receding into the dark ages. Excuse me if I’m three parts Hobbes to one part Rousseau, but I live in the Middle East, where reality is harsh and unforgiving.

No false comfort

I will not descend into saccharine lines about hugging my children, but I will do it. I won’t claim to know anything about G-d’s plan, but I will pray to Him with devotion. I won’t pretend to know what the government should do, or if there’s anything it can do, to improve our situation. I’ll leave that to those who can actually do something about it.

I will not allow myself to release the pressure by relying on old tropes and tired catch phrases from past catastrophes. I will not allow myself to be caught preaching a knowledge I do not have, or telling you about feelings that still lay muddled in my heart.

I am a flawed human being with little knowledge and less power. I will continue to live and to await the dawn because, “men cannot live without hope, and will not consent to die.” (Will Durant)

About the Author
Rabbi Eitan Levy is a tour guide and organizer in Israel. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, got a BA in philosophy at Sarah Lawrence, and rabbinic ordination at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He loves to share his love of the Torah, land and people of Israel in writing, lectures, and tours. He lives in Tekoa with his wife and three little gremlins.