(photo credit: Courtesy)
According to Jewish tradition, "When the month of Adar arrives, happiness increases."
Oh sure. It's the dead of winter; our enemies are polishing their resolutions and sharpening their knives; the Iranians are building nukes; the Arab Spring is withering under Islamic ice. What's there to be happy about?Sometimes you just have to look at things from a different angle. Here are six good reasons:
First, our striving for social justice is bound by economic reality. I hate to say it, but our good neighbors the Greeks give us proof every day that an unbridled welfare state will eventually collapse in chaos if it can't pay its bills. For years, the Greek government maintained a wonderful system of "social justice" for all Greeks - on borrowed money. Similar scenarios may be taking place for Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy and even France, where they seem to believe that retiring at age 62 is in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Our own government may need spurs from time to time, but it seems committed to increasing social benefits at a pace that will not destroy our highly-praised economy.
Another reason to be happy is that our neighbors are not getting their act together. I know, my mother also told me that nice guys don't take pleasure in other's misfortunes. Sorry, mom. I would rather our neighbors grind each other up than turn their attention to us. Liberals all over cheered the "Arab Spring." They're still cheering, but they have to be shutting their eyes and stopping up their ears. In Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, all beacons of a better future a year ago, their societies have reverted to what they do best: repression, violence, economic ineptitude, and radical Islamism waiting around the bend.
The Arab League, composed of countries the same or worse, is impotent as ever. In "The Kite Runner," the hero's father, an outspoken Afghan skeptic, tells his son that, "Israel [is] an island of "real men" in a sea of Arabs too busy getting fat off their oil to care for their own." There might have been a time when we began to doubt this, but it seems to be sounding true once again.
And then, despite the torrent of warnings that Israel's policies of self-defense and self-interest are causing us to be isolated in the international community, the opposite is true. Where it really matters, Israel's standing and trade are growing. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement celebrates when an Israeli lecturer is interrupted, a supermarket chain stops selling Israeli hummus or a European workers' union sells its Israeli stocks. But at the same time, Israel is signing multi-million dollar business and defense deals with China, India, Russia, and other countries which count in the real world.
As our relations with Turkey plummeted, those with Greece and Cyprus improved beyond anybody's wildest dreams. Israel sits on more UN agencies than ever before, and the Security Council just condemned attacks against Israeli diplomats. And from out of nowhere, Canada has arisen as a strong supporter of Israel, constant as the North Star. Israel's medical and security experience is sought after and our entrepreneurship is dissected and copied.
We should also be pleased that the Jerusalem Light Rail line is off and running. Although its speed and frequency still have to be improved, the Light Rail is a beautiful, new way to get around Jerusalem. (Full disclosure: I live exactly at one end of the line, so the Light Rail was made for people like me.) At first I thought it would just be a bus ride on rails, but it's a whole different experience. The medium is the message. You get on the Light Rail and you're in a world clean, quiet and smooth. People speak to each other more, including Jews ands Arabs, something I never see on the bus.
If beer is an important part of your happiness quotient, there's no doubt that these are happy times. Coming some three decades after the Israeli wine revolution, new boutique breweries are now opening all over Israel. Most of the beer they're making is pretty great. Even if you're one of those who "don't like beer," the new Israeli beers can change your mind. And as the beers get better, we're drinking more of them. Researchers will tell you that beer is about as healthy as wine - and, if you ask me, it tastes better.
And lastly, it's been a miserable, wet winter. Funny thing: these are the kinds of winters that Jews actually pray for! Without them, we'd be living in a desert, so count your blessings. Go out and sing in the rain. What did Al Jolson used to sing?
Though winter showers may flood your car,
They bring the flowers that bloom in Adar!
I'm not sure this is going to bring a month's worth of happiness, but it's a good start.The writer works in advertising and direct marketing in Jerusalem.
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