Now we have something to complain about!

I have a friend, who when asked how he is, answers, “No complaints”. My reply to that is usually, “That doesn’t sound very Jewish!”.

Jews like to complain, and I think that’s more than just a stereotype. After the miraculous redemption from Egypt, we started complaining right away (with some great lines like “Did they run out of graves in Egypt?) And we continue to complain to this very day.

At its essence, complaining is a good thing. It means we’re not satisfied with how things are, and are always looking for a better world. There’s likely a correlation to our high level of complaining, and the impact the Jews have made on the world despite our very small numbers.

And so in a modern Jewish state, with an active press, and very high level of internet and social media use, it’s not surprising that in Israel we complain about everything: the government, the army, the schools, the stores, the health care, the foreign policy, the bureaucracy, the police, everything.

But today, as we enter the annual period marking Israel’s independence (and commemorating the warriors that delivered and protected that independence) – let’s take a moment to think about how amazing it is that we can complain about all of that.

We can complain about the government – because we have a government! Something we didn’t have for centuries!

We can complain about the army – because we have an army! We’re no longer dependent on the unreliable mercy of the nations!

We can complain about our schools and our health care and our police – but these are finally our own. We determine our own destiny – and we make our own mistakes!

So let’s take the opportunity to celebrate all we have to complain about!

About the Author
David Curwin is a lifelong lover of language (although not a professional linguist). He has been writing the blog Balashon, about the history of Hebrew words and phrases, and their connections with English, since 2006.