Zev Shandalov

Option Three

(Just as I was about to post this latest article, the news of yet another seven soldiers having been killed was cleared for publication. For these boys and the others, who preceded them in death, we mourn.)

I will admit that, in general, I am a news junkie. I like to know what is going at all times. So, for someone like me, this current Operation/War that we are in presents a huge challenge: being able to do much of anything without constantly checking news on Facebook, The Muqata, INN, TOI, Jpost etc.

While watching and reading all of the news reports, one can break them down into various categories (which I will leave to your own ingenuity and imagination). However, the one “category” I wish to write about is the one I call:  “And, once again, the world infuriates me!”  This refers to postings or news stories of world leaders and of common folk claiming that we are morally repugnant, murderers, Nazis or whatever the invective-of-the-hour is. I read them–I get infuriated–to the point of screaming at my computer (it probably needs compu-therapy!). I yell at the screen in front of me and ask “How can the world be so blind!?” Or–“Why are we treated differently than everyone else?” Or–“How can so many people just be so downright stupid!?”

And then something occurred to me, and I decided to share it with all of you. When any one of these stories pops up, we essentially have three options: First, we could ignore them; secondly, we could act as I described above; or third we could write, speak say something POSITIVE about the Land and its People. And there is much more than meets the eye to choosing Option Three.

We find ourselves at a very difficult time in the Jewish calendar. We are in the month of Tammuz, which will be followed soon by the month of Menachem Av. They are dark, heavy times due to Jewish history events, which culminated with the destruction of the two Temples on 9 Av. But if we go back one step, we see what brought this date (9 Av) to be draped till this day in black: The Spies.

In Sefer Bamidbar, we read of the Spies, who went into the Land of Israel, their negative report and the reaction of the People, which was a night of crying. G-d declared that the People cried for no reason and He would give them a reason in future generations to cry. That fateful night was indeed 9 Av.

The original cause of all of these problems was that the Spies spoke Lashon Hara (negative speech) about the Land of Israel. Now, let’s  return to our choices of how to react when faced with world condemnations, complaints, double-standards, etc. If instead of screaming at the computer or ignoring it altogether, we, instead, take the moment or two to write or say something POSITIVE about the Land of Israel and its people, perhaps we can help to reverse the damage done thousands of years back, after greeting the People with Lashon Hara about the Land.

Maybe, if enough people make it their business to speak in positive terms and to tell EVERYONE positive actions that Israel takes and positive steps we are taking at all times–perhaps we can indeed make a difference in the spiritual realm, which in turn can have an affect on the physical realm.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.