Strangers No More…. Hinai Ma Tov U’ma Na-im

I have always loved the Hebrew phrase “hinai ma tov u’ma na-im shevet achim gam yachad”… behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers (and sisters) to sit together.

It came to my mind today as I read the many e-mail letters from TIMES OF ISRAEL readers, sent to my personal e-mail address, in response to my recent article “God’s Three Angels”.

Strangers who have never met me wrote to share their best wishes for a speedy recovery from my physical ailments. Hinai ma tov u’ma na-im… behold how good and how pleasant it is.

Many Israeli readers and some in Australia and the United States wrote to express their concern. The first three responses came from David Bogomolny of Jerusalem and Shmuel (Peter) Koltuv of Denmark. Both of them are specialists in Russian language programs.

The third reply came from Yael Shahar, a prominent Israeli author of a best-selling novel “Returning” and a specialist in counter-terrorism and intelligence.

They are among the dozens of responses I have received on my personal e-mail. Only Yael Shahar can solve the mystery of how they found my e-mail address. It falls into the category of “intelligence”, one of her fields of expertise.

There were responses from France, Canada and Germany as well. A very warm and inspiring knowledge that TOI readers are scattered across the globe.

Regrettably I am unable to thank each one personally. This then is my collective thanks.

None of those who responded will win a Nobel Prize from Norway or Sweden but each one will receive from me the most Noble Prize for Caring and Concern. God bless our compassionate readers.

We are all strangers one to another but we feel another’s pain. That is what binds us to our religious traditions and faith.

My doctors have informed me that surgery will not be necessary and there is at present no indication that I will permanently lose the sight in my right eye.

A friend, with an unusual sense of humor, said to me “Don’t worry. If you cannot look at a pretty woman with your bad right eye, use your good left eye”.

My response to him was that in that matter I am blind in both eyes. There was only one great love in my life. She was my light and it is no wonder that since her death that light has been extinguished forever.

Sometimes strangers can become friends through an exchange of letters. Recently I sent a letter to Austin Smith, an American-Israeli who is imprisoned in an American federal jail for his role in dealing with fraudulent binary options in both countries.

My letter was simply one of concern for his well-being, to keep up his spirits and to let him know that he is remembered even by a stranger whom he never met.

It is, to me, important that we reach out to others who are in need of human contact. It helps to know that we are not alone.

Strangers we may be, but in the heart of all whom we can help we become friends.

“Hinai ma tov u’ma na-im—–“. How good and how pleasant it is.

That is, in essence, a strong part of my Judaism.

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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