With each day that passes I become more and more aware of my weaknesses and frailty. It is not, thank God, from any exposure to coronavirus or any other disease. It is, rather, what the Hebrew bible describes as “et zikna” or what Yiddish speakers would call an “alte kakka”. Briefly put, “old age”.
The pains, so says my doctor, are related to arthritis in the lower back. Painful to sit down, painful to lie down and most painful to get up. Pills and massage creams and ointments are of no help. Complaining is of no help. But as the Torah states “ezri mi Hashem oseh shamayim va aretz”… my help only comes from God who made heaven and earth.
While therefore He helps me on earth, I hope He will likewise help me if I’m lucky to get into heaven !
As for now I have but one burning desire. It is my wish for 30. Not 30 more impossible years of life but the wish to see my 30 family members and dear friends while I can still see, hear, and embrace.
I pray for the time when I may remove my mask and they theirs and we can embrace and kiss one another for possibly the last time. It’s not that I am a fatalist. More of a realist describes me.
All the long years of my life have been enhanced by love to and from my family and from many years of companionship with devoted friends.
True it is that I would like to live more days or months (years are more preferable), to see the end of the Netanyahu era and the re-establishment of a democracy for all in the State of Israel.
While we have happily succeeded in making peace with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain and while peace with Sudan, Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are wishes for a future, it is to our most difficult neighbor, the Palestinians whose state is yet to be, that a peace accord between them and us must… I repeat, MUST… be established.
It may have to wait until Abbas dies and a new more forward-thinking Palestinian regime is elected, but I believe that with mutual good faith and trust, we will eventually sign a peace agreement with a Palestinian State. Or as my mother would have said “Az Moshiach vet kummen”… wait for the Messiah.
Of course, I won’t be here to see it, but hopefully most of you will. And then you will best understand that the Zionist dream has been fulfilled.
Yet now, our peace arrangements with Arab, Muslim and other nations are of less interest to me. My real dream is to embrace the 30 special loving family members and many friends while I can still do it.
If things continue as they are at the moment, I may have to do it by social distancing, 3 separate groups of 10 each… truly a Jewish minyan !
I wish also that I could see once again some of the dedicated students who sat in my university classrooms in years gone by. It would be a delight to see how they have grown and succeeded in their lives.
One of my brilliant children chides me and tells me to think only of the present, not of a past which I cannot change, and not of a future which I may not see. All we have, she tells me, is the present.
Regrettably, not only for me but for millions of Israelis and people across the globe, the present is not particularly a joyous one. Too many deaths, too much wide-spread disease, too much unemployment, too much hunger, too much racism, too much hatred (and for many of us in Israel, too much of Netanyahu).
Of the “too much” items, I see three that can be eliminated permanently and immediately. And they are racism, hatred and Netanyahu. (The first two “diseases” can be combined into the last one mentioned).
Prior to our independence in 1948, the last lines of the Zionist anthem were “lashuv l’aretz. eretz avotainu, l’ir ba David….” To return to our land, the land of our forefathers, the city to which David came…
After independence the line was changed to give new meaning to the national anthem of the reborn Jewish State : “Ha tikvah bat shnot alpayim, lihiyot am chofshi b’artzainu, eretz Tziyon v’Yerushalayim”…. The hope of two thousand years to be a free people in our own land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.
We have succeeded in being a free people, after two thousand years of dispersal and exile, but we have not succeeded in being a peaceful people.
I do not mean “peaceful” in terms of our relationship with other nations and peoples. Rather, I regret deeply and painfully the lack of cordiality, friendship and acceptance and tolerance between ultra-orthodox Jews and more religiously liberal Jews, secular, Reform and Conservative Jews.
Freedom in the land of our forefathers does not mean state-sponsored bureaucracy nor discrimination against Muslim and Christian minorities who are citizens of our country nor against Jews whose beliefs and practices differ from State-mandated religious observances.
Until our laws and/or behavior changes, we cannot truly be a free people.
It may take more lifetimes to change the stubbornness of our politically imprisoned government.
In the meantime, my main wish remains to be re-united with my 30. And all of us without masks.
Let it be very soon while we can still embrace and kiss. Kissing is not allowed in heaven.
Why? Because the angels might get jealous.
On the other hand, speaking of wishes, the Forbes List of the 50 richest billionaires in the world in 2020, included 13 Jews… 26 %. A large majority of the world’s richest billionaires were in communist China.
Surprisingly, none of Israel’s many billionaires made it to the list of the 50 richest.
And sadly… oh, how very sadly… not even me ! I guess I’ll have to keep on wishing.
Meanwhile, from the Vatican Pope Francis has appointed a Cardinal to be the new Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem. His name is Cardinal Pizzaballa.
When my cherished Cuban Catholic friend Alba heard the news she informed me that she was sending a petition to His Holiness the Pope in Rome to insist that he make me one who is chosen to wear the red cap. (Not the red cap that Donald Trump gives freely to his supporters).
In her follow-up to her Papal petition she remarked. “In place of a Patriarch Pizza in Jerusalem I’ll support you. But instead of pizza what can you offer”?
My answer to her was 100% of strong Cuban rum.
Her reply was, “Welcome to Jerusalem, Cardinal Ben-Sorek” !!!
I may not be one of the billionaires but I am one who enjoys a good laugh… one that is shared with good friends.
Dominus vobiscum i tu spiritum. I’m practicing. If one Jew in Jerusalem could be proclaimed God, another Jew could be proclaimed Patriarch.
In the meanwhile, I’ll keep wishing, hoping and praying to be with my 30 best loved ones again soon.