Thursday, March 21, 2013

A new government is sworn-in in Jerusalem - A moment without cynicism

I am moved by the right that has been bestowed upon me to live as a free man in the historic Jewish homeland; to live a life free of the burden of others; a life of national pride; a life that has the potential to realize an immense vision for the benefit of all humankind

Dr. Haim Shine..
Israel Hayom..
19 March '13..

During the long years in exile, the Jews developed two very clear defense mechanisms that enabled them to endure the prolonged suffering — cynicism toward others and self-deprecating humor. These two qualities became a sort of second nature in the renewing Israeli culture. This second nature has prompted many among us to lose faith in elected officials, in government institutions and in the rule of law.

As a new government is sworn-in in Jerusalem, I hereby remove the old iron dome of cynicism and humor from myself, I put aside all the politics of the election campaigns and coalition negotiations, and I feel truly moved. The emotion is real. It is natural, and powerful, and it bursts forth from the depths of the Jewish soul. I am moved by the right that has been bestowed upon me to live as a free man in the historic Jewish homeland; to live a life free of the burden of others; a life of national pride; a life that has the potential to realize an immense vision for the benefit of all humankind.

The exile that our people endured warped our character, diminished our pride and extinguished the healthy instincts that free peoples normally possess. Wherever the Jews were, they would sow entire fields and not reap an iota of the crops. Various ill winds hit entire generations of Jews and nearly wiped them out. But the Jews never despaired. They made an amazing conscious decision to continue to exist at all costs.

My mother's family lived under the Austro-Hungarian empire. My father's family lived under the Russian czars. My father served in the Lithuanian cavalry, and my mother stood trembling on the ramp in Birkenau, awaiting the verdict of the Nazi mass murderer Josef Mengele. But I, their son and grandson, have the privilege of living in Israel under an elected Jewish government, whose ministers are committed to the state and its laws. On the day that a new government is sworn in, it is permissible, and even encouraged, to rise above the petty troubles, look to the past with a lowered gaze and lift one's eyes toward the future, with great hope.

The dreams of many generations are coming true in Israel today. Millions of immigrants have come home. Greater Israel is growing. The State of Israel boasts countless achievements in security, education, commerce and science. Unified Jerusalem is more beautiful and magical than ever. There is already a light rail line connecting the tombs of sages on Mount Herzl and the holy sites at Temple Mount. Old and new come together in Israel's resurrection. Even U.S. President Barack Obama understands that Israel is a global superpower, and he is coming here to support us and to gain strength from us.

There is a special symbolism that comes with a government being sworn in during the Hebrew month of Nisan, the same month in which the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, and the month in which our future redemption is prophesied. This month incorporates the renewal of spring with the Jews' ability to dust themselves off, remedy their mistakes and cheer up. In a week we will all sit around the Passover table and read the Haggadah which describes the miracles of the exodus from Egypt, with confident, clear voices. The biggest miracle of all is the fact that we emerged from slavery after 400 years and stood as free men at Mount Sinai. This miracle was repeated in modern times, when the remnants of the Jewish people managed to gather the pieces and dry bones from across the European continent, declare a Jewish state and immediately go to war defending it. The new government in Israel is one of the sovereign manifestations of the unending desire for life, which the Jews possess in huge quantities.

In a moment of raised spirits, it is important to recall that the Jewish people had sovereign independence in the distant past as well. The first time the Jews lost their independence it was due to a moral decline into the depths of idolatry. The second time it was because of internal hatred that disintegrated the Jewish unity and critically undermined the Jews' ability to vanquish their enemies. National Jewish independence is not a given. The new government has to work hard to bolster the moral foundation of Israeli society, which has been deteriorating for years, build national unity and remember that civil strife is a recipe for doom. One can argue, but never hate. One can disagree, but out of mutual respect and the understanding that we are all the sons of one man, even if we don't all look, think and feel the same.

The challenges are great, and the tasks are immense. May God grant our elected officials the resourcefulness, insight and courage to lead the country toward realizing the prophets' vision — a vision that is becoming reality before our very eyes.


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