A friend recently returned from a trip to the United States where he was teaching and lecturing. We discussed that common sense we all get of feeling depleted when spending time in the lands of the exile . We also agreed that the feeling upon returning is one of being replenished and refilled.
A recent Gallup poll showed that Israelis are amongst the top ten happiest populations in the world ,placing far ahead of the United States and Britain. The Gallup poll surveyed thousands of people in 155 countries focusing questions on their sense of overall “life satisfaction”. In fact some of the countries that topped Israel also top the lists regarding suicide and alcohol abuse ( both are areas in which Israel does not even enter the list). Another recent poll called ,”The War and Peace Index” conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found that 80% of the Jews polled defined their personal status as “very good” or “good,” 90% said they think Israel is doing “very well” as a nation; and 81% said they were “very optimistic” or “optimistic” as to the nation’s future.
In reality a cursory look at these results leaves one rather surprised.
Israel is surrounded by a sea of hatred and totalitarian terror states. The American administration under President Obama has proven again and again to be one of the most antagonistic administrations Israel has had to face. The campuses around the world are rife with violence and antagonism. Unsubstantiated “truths” like the new “political speak” that the land of Israel was a blossoming garden of Eden populated by a thriving nation of Palestinians has been accepted as axiomatic truth. The continent of Europe is drowning under waves of fanatic Islamic immigration, have turned to Israel-hatred as a possible life preserver.
How can one be optimistic or happy?
When my friend and I discussed his recent trip to the United States we were both reminded of the phenomenon of “political discussions” in America.
A sincere G-d fearing acquaintance will begin a discussion around the fears of war in the region or of the “need to compromise” . At some point in such a conversation the Israeli visitor will point out that perhaps we are hearing the footsteps of the final days and that perhaps we are witnessing the prophecies of redemption unfolding before our eyes. Such statements will usually quiet the American host or family member for a moment. Then they might respond with something like” well, yea, of course that’s true.” Then another pause will follow . Yet the pause is then followed by a comment like; ” but really what are you going to do about this or that”.
Their focus is not misguided. We in fact do need to focus on the realities and dangers of the world and be prepared to counter them. Yet living in exile has diminished the power to ” dream”.
It has muted the call of the redemptive process.
It is that ability to dream and see a grander vision of Jewish history and destiny that fills the air in this land. It is so palpable that even the so called secular Israeli feels it and needs to respond to it. This response might even be vehement rejection of the vision because of its implications. Yet one cannot be complacent here in this land. One has to contend with what King Solomon called the “ Voice of the Turtledove is heard in our land; ” (Song of Songs 2:12) .
It is that ability to hear the call and to continue to dream that is the secret of the joy and contentment.
“When HaShem brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; Then said they among the nations: ‘HaShem hath done great things with these.’ HaShem hath done great things with us; we are rejoiced. ( psalm 126:1-3)