There are seemingly very few positive spins to the “situation” we find ourselves in right now. The Hebrew word for “situation,” “matzav,” is neutral according to its dictionary definition, but in modern-day Israel takes on a negative connotation and describes our life during conflict: our concern about leaving the house should we get stabbed; hesitation over which route is the least dangerous; and the morbid fear that just a trip to the mall may end up being a fatal decision.
All our fears, that we are scared to even articulate, lest the words take on a power of their own and materialize into reality, are wrapped up in that one word.
Everyone has their own way of coping with the “matzav.” There is no way of escaping the awful situation we find ourselves in. I read the sage advice from many to take a break from the Internet and cut off from the news, but we all know it’s easier said than done. We are a tiny country and every act of terrorism is felt profoundly.
I made Aliyah seventeen years ago (it will be seventeen years to the day this coming Thursday). I have been here long enough to know that even though emotionally it feels as if we have hit rock bottom, we have been through far worse, and this too shall pass.
So how do we cope with the “matzav”? What keeps the Jewish people going through these potentially psychologically crippling times? We take a lead from the word “matzav” – which we all know has a heavy sadness attached to it, but ultimately does not define who we are.
We acknowledge that “this is the situation” – without any need for elaboration – and we keep on going. We stay in this country. We watch chick flicks and finish bottles of wine. We take self-defense classes because we refuse to be paralyzed and rooted to the spot. We share stories on Facebook about restaurant owners who offer free food to our soldiers and police force; we fight evil and hatred with love and hope. We stop to listen to musicians singing beautiful Zionist tunes in the Central Bus Station, and keep that moment close to our chests for the rest of the day. And we raise children in this blessed country of ours to believe in the honor of protecting the Jewish State while never abandoning the ideal of peace, even if there is no one with whom to make peace.
Our “situation” right now is bleak, but if we turn evil on its head and respond to hate and murder with love and a zest for life, as only Israelis know how, our persecution can only strengthen us rather than define us.