Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Lessons from half a year sitting at home

I came well-prepared. My four grandparents were murdered in the Holocaust. And I safely raised my children in Jerusalem. The contrast is stunning. But life in Israel was not always quiet.


At the start of the Second Intifada, the shootings started at civilians in Gilo, the southern Jerusalem neighborhood where I lived. Were we safe? Well, in comparison to 60 years earlier, we were totally safe. We had our own State, army, and police, and different from Abraham, we didn’t live in tents anymore.

It was clear what streets not to walk at night. Stay on the south side of buildings so that you have cover from bullets coming from the South.

Nevertheless, we miraculously escaped an unprecedented unexpected daytime shooting. I was crossing the street at 4 PM with my sons of 5 and 6 years old when three bullets zoomed by us. At the time I was incensed that gunmen would be so callous to target such young guys or their father. Later I considered he may have missed us on purpose–there is good in everyone. Or, it was a miracle. Happens.

But, generally, the situation was safe. Of the 18 months of shooting, no one died. It’s a whole story in itself.

At a certain moment, rockets started flying–not just bullets. Would we hide, would we run? I still remember saying that if we would all leave, we would give up a part of Jerusalem to a bunch of murderers and Jew-haters. No way. And I said: If rather live half a year with my family in a bunker than flee. We’ll survive. Worse has happened.


And now, I’m half a year inside my house. No bullets are flying but microscopic viruses. They kill about 5% of people of my age and give many health effects for months to survivors of any age. I have many plans for my life. I have no time to die. I’ll sit inside.

It started a month before Pesach, at Purim, and it’s now Rosh haShannah. Then we were told to sterilize our hands and that masks don’t work. Now we know that masks are the most important. But it’s the safest to not meet anyone. Last week, two people told me that it was completely safe outside. While 4,000 people a day are infected. One can get used to and justify anything, I guess. These people do not understand why we are heading toward lockdown.

Now, I must admit that if I had no electricity, I’d go raving mad. But I do have current. So I can call people, surf the Internet, get my news, partake in Zoom and Skype sessions, exchange emails, post blog posts. I’ll manage.

And I learned very unexpected lessons.

First of all, I did not know how much money I spent, bit-by-bit on busses and food sales. And that I had enough dry, tinned, and frozen food in the house for many months. I was left with more and more money at the end of the months and finally was eating the bargains put away for when?

Shopping once every two weeks is enough. Nothing my son or daughter couldn’t carry. Plenty to improvise mails with.

I knew I was a workaholic. But I didn’t know how much so. Now I am not doing day trips. I’m not enjoying bookstores. I’m not meeting friends. And I’m not wasting time at bus stops. What was left was working and sleeping. I never got so much done before. Very efficient. But also kind of maniac. I need to learn better how to take breaks. Being efficient can help you get a lot done but should not be the main quality of your life.

I knew that I was a bit of an introvert. One with courage but an introvert nevertheless. But I didn’t know I would enjoy being on my own so much. I’m not the only one. I’ve heard many times that people said, It’s actually doing me very well to be with I, me, and myself at home.

Several people told me that virtual dating is so nice. You don’t need to make clear that you are not seeking one-night stands. You don’t need to avoid hugs. You can focus on becoming friends first. Sweet.

A friend sent me someone who had a huge anger problem. If I could help him. Gave him some attention on the phone. What should you be scared of, he said, I can’t beat you up long-distance.

Yes, it’s hard to never shake a hand, never exchange a hug, a lecture over Zoom is not the same. But it will pass.

It was strange to always pray alone. But it was comfortable to pick my own prayer and sleep times. And to miss prayers outside like at the new moon or the blooming fruit trees for the first time in 40 years.

But, I will not be getting an anti-flu vaccination for the first time in years. Which flu? I don’t do viruses inside my house. I also don’t risk sunburn or dehydration, frostbite, or sprained ankles.

And when the first vaccinations against the new coronavirus come, I won’t be the first to apply. Give it to the teachers, the delivery youths, the store and healthcare workers, etc. I have been safe, I will be safe.

Soon the country will go on lockdown. Won’t affect me. It’s like asking someone who never shaves if it’s not hard when you are not allowed to.

Will I celebrate being let loose in two or six or 12 months? I guess, I will. But I won’t be surprised if I’d sometimes think back with some nostalgia to the times I sat at home, missed spring, summer, autumn, and winter, but lived a good life nevertheless. And even the things you missed most teach you what is most important in life. Those were the days.

It will get better. Let’s hang in there to be able to witness that.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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