August 17: Utterly amazed

Read today's letters.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Utterly amazed
I was utterly amazed reading Caroline B. Glick’s “Netanyahu’s great challenge” (Our World, August 16). She expresses (or implies) three not-so-obvious truths.
1. Human beings can’t know what is in someone else’s head, no matter how many advanced degrees they possess.
2. To slander another person, let alone a prime minister, in public is a serious misdemeanor in any moral society, and certainly in Israel, where there is a huge number of people who believe that lashon hara (evil discourse) is a divinely forbidden sin.
3. An ordinary citizen is privy to neither the information that is available to a prime minister nor the realistic choices available to him.
The public’s choice is not whether to oust one leader in favor of a political competitor, but who it can trust to make the best decisions for the survival of a Jewish state.
Sorrow to joy
Having recently experienced Tisha Be’av, known as a day of gloom commemorating the destruction of both temples, and moving on to Tu Be’av, one of the happiest days on our calendar, when marriages were arranged by the young, we remind ourselves that this is the very essence of our history.
Whenever we experience sorrow, we approach it positively and anticipate a coming joy. Tisha Be’av is not only a sad day, but one of hope. It is called a moed, a festival, when the Messiah is reputed to be born.
On Tisha Be’av, I sat on the floor in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, yet looking with hope toward the nearby Old City. Mishkenot was built by Moses Montefiore, who himself showed optimism and foresight toward the poor of the city.
In keeping with this thread, Jeremiah, who predicted the destruction, is often referred to as a prophet of doom. But he is also full of hope for our future, borne out by his words “Return us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored. Renew our days of old” (Lamentations 5:21) and “If you will stay in this land, I will build you up” (Jeremiah 42:10). The Book of Jeremiah is replete not only with words of foreboding, but also with those of encouragement There are so many detractors and critics of Israel that praise must be given when praise is due.
As one who lives in Israel for a large part of the year, I witness with admiration the resilience and perspicacity of our people.
Although we live in uncertain times, never knowing what the day might bring and preoccupied with our work, the very psyche and attitude is one of hope and joy.
Amazingly enough, my husband and I experience an extraordinary amount of hesed (altruistic kindness) and ahavat hinam (unsolicited love) on a daily basis:
• A man, on his own accord, gives out cold water in Mahaneh Yehudah to quench the thirst of those without drink.
• The wheel of my shopping trolley falls off, yet amid the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers, a young man stops to help me carry it for a considerable distance. (When I thank him profusely, his answer is a happy “b’kef, literally “with fun,” but meaning with pleasure or joy.)
• A lady stops to give us a lift when she sees us searching for an address, although it takes her out of her way. Total strangers insist on giving us a lift, stating: “It is Sabbath Eve and we want to do hesed, not just have a vacation in Jerusalem.”
I could go on and on! In the face of adversity on all sides, the sheer joy of living not only in Jerusalem, but anywhere in our country, is self-evident, and the persistence and optimism of our people shines through. Indeed, Am Yisrael chai!