What Happened to Us?

Looking back at our society in the pre-State days and in the early days of our Independence, and looking at our society today one needs to ask what happened to us?

My mother-in-law who lived in the Montefiore district of Tel-Aviv used to regale me over and over again about how good life was in Israel in those days. She said that she and neighbors could go shopping for food, leaving their windows open and their doors unlocked. There was never a mischievous incident.

It was rumored apocalyptically that Chief Rabbi Kook recited the prayer of Shehecheyanu when the first Jewish criminal was arrested and imprisoned. A very rare event.

Those were the days of real chalutzim, the pioneers who drained the malaria swamps, broke the huge rocks and boulders to make way for paved streets and laid the foundations for the cities in which we now dwell. Nothing was too hard for those pioneers. They came to the land to fulfill a promise.

Anu banu artza livnot u’L’HIBANOT ba…. We came to our land to build and to be REBUILT.

No luxuries. No amenities. Only a divinely inspired will and determined courage to reclaim the land and to be uplifted by their toil and the sweat of their brows.

So…. What happened to us? We now live in a society where money is king, where there is mob rule, a nation of criminals, rapists, sexual deviants, murderers, noticeable class distinction, and religious intolerance.

Not very unlike the society in other countries. But we need to be the exception. It was God’s command that we must be the “or la goyim”…the light unto the nations.

Sadly, the light has dimmed and faded. Religious leaders and teachers, including former chief rabbis, have disgraced us by their lust for indecent sexual behavior.

Our morality as a nation has fallen. Once upon a time, prostitutes were few in number strolling along the beach promenade of Tel-Aviv. Today every city in our country is fair game for prostitution.

A few months ago, an unpublished survey was taken by some sociology students at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. It purported to be a sampling of responses to questions asked of 100 people in 8 different cities and towns in Israel…. A total of 800 responses.

To the question “have you ever had extra-marital sexual relations”, 47% of the males replied “yes” and 29% of the women replied “yes”.

To the question “do you believe that same-sex marriages be legalized in Israel”, 61% of the males replied “no” and 84% of the women replied “no”.

To the question “do you support all rights for members of the LGBT community”, 40% of the males replied “no” and 35 % of the women replied “no”.

To the question “do you think the imprisonment for rape by Moshe Katzav was just”, 100% of both males and females replied “yes”.

To the question “could you accept a gay son or a gay daughter”, 33% refused to answer; 51% of males answered “yes” and 65% of females answered “yes”.

I do not know when or if the survey will be formally made public. I had only seen the questions and responses sent to me by a student who participated in the survey in the city of Herzliya.

The fact remains that from our earliest days until the present, ethics and morality have drastically changed. And not for the better, in my personal opinion.

I recall a time when parents wished that their sons would become tractor drivers on a kibbutz. Today the dream is that children should become doctors, lawyers, and computer scientists in a society which is already over-grown with them.

So we must re-think the question “What happened to us?”   And we need only to check hearts and minds to find the answers.

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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