Saturday, July 19, 2008
Dinkum dinkum mates in Him
This Pinchas Shabbat is over, but the week starts. The Shabbat fell this year on the 17th of Tamuz 5768. It should really mean something important for each of us, Israelis, inhabitants of Israel. A 60th anniversary celebration period that fades slowly in peaceful uncertainty. There are some points that the Israeli society cannot accept openly. Let's say that it is the consequence of the permanent traumatic harassment that implicitly wants to deny her rights, ignore her existence and ambiguously recognizes her like shadowing glimpses.
In the course of the four shabbatot that will lead to Tisha be'Av (ט" באב - 9th of Av) and the memorial of the destruction of the two Temples, the Jewish people are called to reflect upon its fate and abominations. Contemporary Jews can hardly review their lives in the State of Israel by questioning themselves as guilty and unrighteous community. Guilt and self-rejection, denial have structured for a great part a kind of neurotic behavior toward existence and the reasons why a Jew is or would be still alive and being a living extant person enjoy life to the full. Thus, it might even turn to some constant drift: how to transgress the rules and get free of invisible handcuffs or ropes.
Israeli youths are usually simple and on the verge of naivity. Therefore, they can be cruel and mentally hurt their friends or people they would not stand. Generally speaking, they are nice, soft, like tender teddy bears, easy to cry and ready to comfort, open to the world, spoiled, overprotected because one child is like 100 children in any other country. They are like the flowers: don't remove or cut a growing flower: it grows, it is a living plant and it means a victory over sand, dryness, crude brains and pits without water. Israeli youth grow and they are taught everyday that struggle for life is mainly a fight against a history of hatred that apparently climaxed in Europe during the past century with the Holocaust, the Shoah, the extermination of the Jews in a christened Europe.
At this point, every Jewish soul may think that they implicitly belong to the "company or society/community of the saints", i.e. of those that God elected and chose to be pure and just. This constitutes a tantamount mystery dealing with regards to faith. 17th of Tamuz recalls that the Hebrew people failed in the wilderness and worshiped the golden calf. The day of fast does not focus on any pagan or gentile or foreign attitude directed against God. It shows how the chosen ones failed and nonetheless could turn back to God. It shows that the Mitzvot (Commandments) assemble a set of rules that govern the universe beyond any possibility for mankind to control them or pack them together to rule over the others. The Mitzvot oblige the Jews and the non-Jews to position their ethical choices - and "Dieu dispose" (Fr. God will act accordingly).
Israeli youth is not alone at this point. And this is the new element that should be considered. Clerics of all religions are experts at putting a cherem\חרם - anathema against their fellow communities, or their seemingly enemies. These days, we should not forget that Moshe did not enter the Land of Canaan because he killed an Egyptian... and he killed a then brother for him in order to save the people he belonged to.
Sixty years after the creation of the State of Israel, this State is fully composed of various nations, but mainly show the slow but steady encounter of Jews and Arabs. The interesting point is that Israel is in a long-term process of grafting back. The Israeli society only functions, at all levels because of the positive participation of "the others", i.e. the Arabs whose language and culture in the Near and Middle-East constitute a large part of the Oriental Jewish tradition.
When Israeli Jews or assimilated leave the community because they consider they can make their lives abroad, they should be aware of the real act of permanent atonement shown by God that overshadowed and pardoned the sins of Israel. "פושעי ישראל - poshey Israel - transgressing Israel" may have kept over all generations this very strange aspect of a community "untouched by sin", a view that is very close to Saint Paul word "en avto" in the epistle to the Romans. The Eastern Orthodox Church has a very similar view. It may imperil spiritual life when a community of some individuals stubbornly reject that they commit faults. Before reciting the Vidui\וידוי - confession of sins (3 times a day), the Jew says: "we are not so impudent and obdurate as to declare before You... that we are righteous and have not sinned. Indeed we and our fathers have sinned (אבל אנחנו ואבותינו חטאנו-aval anahnu veavoteynu hata'nu).
In the past months, I experienced how split communities can be in the Holy Land. Israel has a very strong tradition of respect toward each individual. It should be noted by some sociologists and reporters. But foreign journalists prefer juicy scoops, even fake ones. I saw so many of them just set up in front of me with two or three guys and girls of all tendencies ready to show up. Israel is a country where a true believer is a man, a "gever\גבר", a male and has guts. This sounds a bit raw, but the words was used by a strong woman who lives in Sderot and is really courageous.
Israel? You may arrive with any kind of "birthright-Taglit" aliyah channeling system, university contract, volunteering then dis-volunteering and switch to any other trend. Flexibility and fluidity are sacked at the moment by the cancer of corruption, distrust. I would never have thought to see in this country that is "the dream above any kind of my possible dreams that came true" that rabbis would be put into jail for homosexuality and incest would wound the Jewish family purity to that extent. Nonetheless, there is a profound significance to any passing beyond the laws. Israel is a place where since and grace are terribly close, narrow. Every Jew can be justified in the Mitzvot and still trespasses remind us that we are born to bow and rise, love and rejoice. And we can do that because God does pardon Moses for a "normal" murder of self-defense and we all have a private golden calf.
Dinkum mates: authentic, true friends. This is Australian slang... Pope Benedict XVI is swagging around Sydney Bay under his matilda (or bush night cover) and he just said that he feels as happy as a boxing kangaroo in a fog because ecumenism is fairdinkumly down. He declared that ecumenism is "at a critical level". Well, in the Aussie winter time, the pope says the relationships between the Churches and Christian denominations are up a gumtree, in the soup or on a sticky wicket. Should he drop his bundle? As folks say down there we have to wait for a purple patch, good oman.
You see, we are all friends here. In Australia, the sacred bond is that they are all "mates". An English word that came from Dutch (maatschapij = company) and was mainly used in British jails from where came the first Australian settlers. The pope is right. I spend my days in the Holy Land counting all the splits and cracks, breaches and schisms, ruptures; then rifts and fissures that slightly affect the Christian communities within Israeli society. And still, we are all the same as in The Lucky Country: we are "mates = boos, friends, buddies".
Speaking in Australia brings forth other prospects. This is a very young country. It gathers in ancient human history and futurism, from the aborigins to the former Great-Britain prisoners, gangsters and prostitutes to all sorts of newcomers that survived all the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries wars slowly mixing up with Asian blood of all ethnicities. All the Churches and denominations are present there. Newspapers are sold in Greek, Russian, Latvian, Yiddish, Spanish as well as Arabic and in Asian tongues. Jews showed very early, mainly after World War II. Russians immigrants arrived from Harbin and China, via Hong Kong in 1945 and Indo-Chinese from Viet Nam after 1975. We have the same in Jerusalem at the present, swagging between Judaism and some Christian nests.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is very present there as was a haven for the "Church Abroad" as in Canada/USA Californian Coast), which creates a geo-strategical axis. This line goes through Jerusalem where many Greek and Russian nuns were educated in Australia. The link is prolonged to Phili and the group of "resistance" to the Union sealed on Ascension Day 2007 between the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Church Abroad. I its very interesting to note that all this depends on how earthquaking are based or not on pure grace, pure gifts sent by God.
July 20, 2008 - יח דתמוז תשמס"ח