The people of Israel are acting like a fractured family with impulsive siblings hitting each other and calling each other names. As is often the case in familial disputes, perspective is lost .Each sibling overwhelmed by a fear that other considers him or her insignificant.
Israel is going through a period wherein segments of the population are conflicted over issues of ideology and theology. Yet instead of dealing with those differences with maturity, and mutual respect , each of the respective sides are resorting to exaggeration, arrogance and in some cases outright foolishness.
The question of whether or not women are being excluded from the public arena is an important issue. The question of whether a self contained community can dictate and define for itself its own form of lifestyle is important as well .Yet the importance of such questions are lost in the frenzy of the childish antics and small minded generalizations we are witness to in both sides of the issues..
In order to attempt to understand the underpinnings of this type of frenetic Israeli dialog and discourse one must imagine a “family wedding”. When this wedding celebration ends, everyone decides to stay. Within days every guest and family member begins “looking into each others plates” .Everyone feels that they have the permission to tell the other family member what they should be doing in their lives .Yet at the same time, and on a deeper level, when another joyous occasion comes up or if, G-d forbid, a tragedy occurs, everyone becomes family again. That is the secret of this passionate and cantankerous nation.
Jacob and Joseph had to deal with the same cantankerous family dynamics. When Jacob passes away we read how Joseph’s brothers become frightened and concerned due to their difficult past with Joseph
“Now Joseph’s brothers saw that their father had died, and they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us and return to us all the evil that we did to him.”( Genesis 50:15)
Joseph comforts them with the following words;
So now do not fear. I will sustain you and your small children.” And he comforted them and spoke to their hearts…. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am going to die; G-d will surely remember you and take you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” ( ibid 21,24)
Within these words of Joseph lies the secret of mending the fractured and boisterous friction between the people of Israel in our days
“ but G-d will surely remember you’ (pakod yifkod etchem), and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
The words Pakod Yifkod became a code word
When the time for Israel’s redemption finally arrived G-d appears to Moshe at the burning bush.He tells Moshe to say to the people ” HaShem, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared unto me saying, ” I have surely remembered you ( Pakod Pakadeti Etchem) and seen that which is done to you in Egypt'” ( Exodus3:16).
Upon hearing the words “Pakod Pakadeti “ the children of Israel would understand that redemption was at hand.
What, then, does the word Pakod actually mean? The Ramban understands that the word does not merely mean to count or to remember, but rather to show concern, to take heed of other. As in “And Hashem remembered ( pakad) Sarah as He had said … and Sarah conceived” (Genesis 21:1-2).
Yet there is a deeper level as well , as we see the word Pakod used in another context as well. The young David goes into hiding, fearing the wrath of King Saul. He tells his close friend Yonatan, the son of Saul, what to say if his absence at the feast of the new month will be noticed
“If your father miss me at all (Pakod Yifkideni), then say: David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city; for it is the yearly sacrifice there for all the family. (I Samuel 20:6)
The word Pakod does not only mean “to count” but to also to make sure that nothing is missing. It is more than counting “what is”; it is about ensuring that all that needs to be there is accounted for as well. To make sure no one is missing because everyone is critical.
That is the key for the people of this land. Each side in this boisterous conflict is convinced that the other side sees it as irrelevant and unimportant. The leadership of this country, both political and religious must make a clear stand that is understood as inclusionary rather than the opposite. A fractured family can only be healed when each member of the family understands that he or she is critical for the welfare of the family. The leadership of this country must go beyond condemnation and resolve to make every segment of this nation feel as it too is critical for this nation’s survival.
This is the only way to prepare this nation for its great destiny and future.