For the past few days, there has been an unprecedented influx of 49 international delegations, including royalty and heads of state, visiting Jerusalem to memorialize the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. To ensure their safety and to allow them easy access to events, receptions and visits to holy sites, a massive police force has been assembled to protect them and to keep the roads open to them. To that purpose, a rolling closure of highways and city streets has been in effect over the past three days. Many citizens have complained that their daily car commutes and use of mass transit systems have been compromised.
This morning I was in our local sports center, getting ready to don my running gear in the locker room, when I encountered two older men in their 80’s who were there to participate in their daily swim session. I listened to their banter (in Hebrew), as they reacted to what had been happening in Jerusalem over the past 72 hours, and they seemed to me to almost be rehearsing a comedy routine for my benefit.
Old Man #1 (OM1) :- “Do you hear what they are calling it on the radio? ‘The Siege of Jerusalem.'”
Old Man #2 (OM2) – ” Ha, some small troubles with their commute, and everyone is up in arms”.
OM1 – ” As if they know what a real siege is like !”
OM2 – “Yes, we remember the real Siege of Jerusalem in 1947. Arab forces cut off all access to Jerusalem, and no supplies could get in, and no one here could leave”.
OM1 – “Our food was rationed, and we had to get our water from old unused wells”.
OM2 – ” And this went on for a few months until our brave lads found an abandoned shepherd’s trail through the mountains. In record time of a few weeks they built a winding road unseen by the enemy forces, and we were finally able to get much needed stockpiles of food and water”.
OM1 – “But did we complain all that time?”
OM2 – “No we managed as best we could and kept our complaints to ourselves”.
Turning to me, OM1 & OM2 asked “What is it with you of the ‘younger’ generation?”
I sheepishly answered “You make good points. We have no clue what a real siege is like”. And they went off to enjoy the pool.
As I went on my day, I reflected on their message. How bad have we really had it these past few days?
A week ago, to prepare everyone in advance for the upcoming road stoppages, there were many radio reports, newspaper articles, and WhatsApp posts, that detailed in advance exactly which streets and highways would be closed at each hour of the three day event. Waze was updated with all the information necessary to route all traffic past blocked traffic arteries. But still, that seemingly wasn’t enough for the harried, upset commuters in the city.
Do we feel entitled to always have the best of everything? Can we not endure any temporary hardships and challenges in our lives? And have we forgotten how it was in the ‘old days’ when people really had a tough go of it ?
It behooves us to thank Hashem for all the blessings he has bestowed on us on a regular basis, and to overlook any slight inconveniences that may occur from time to time.
The Jerusalem Marathon is coming in a few weeks. Let’s see if we can survive that event with a smile, and reflect on all the good that we enjoy here in such a wonderful, beautiful, holy city.